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Clippers' core fitness is looking better

The team's 13 key players practiced together Thursday for the first time all season. Chauncey Billups might return to game action Friday at Miami.

February 07, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Chauncey Billups could return to the court for the Clippers on Friday when L.A. takes on the Miami Heat.
Chauncey Billups could return to the court for the Clippers on Friday when… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

MIAMI — For the first time all season, including the exhibition season, the 13 key Clippers all practiced at the same time, on Thursday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Better yet, Chris Paul (bruised right kneecap), Blake Griffin (strained left hamstring), Chauncey Billups (left foot tendinitis) and Jamal Crawford (sore right shoulder) all could be back on the court with their teammates Friday night when the Clippers play the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.

The four are listed as day to day, but from the sounds of it, Griffin and Billups gave the strongest indications after practice that they would play Friday.

Paul and Crawford, who also has a broken nose, were more cautious.

Griffin has missed the last two games because of his hamstring injury. He said he didn't do much full-court scrimmaging Thursday but did a lot of half-court contact drills and felt good afterward.

"Yeah, there's a chance I'll play tomorrow," Griffin said. "It's really how I feel going up and down. In the half court, all my movements side-to-side, pivot, everything I needed, was fine. Tomorrow I just have to make sure it's not any more sore than it is today and I'll go from there."

Billups has played in only three games this season after rehabilitating from a torn left Achilles' tendon injury that he suffered a year ago. He last played Dec. 3 and has missed the last 34 games because of the tendinitis, but has steadily increased his practice.

Billups said he wants to see how he feels Friday at the team's shoot-around before making a decision on playing.

"I wanted to get a really hard good day of work in and I did that," Billups said. "Got through it and felt pretty good. Hopefully I wake up [Friday] and I feel great and it's a go. But I have to wait and see how the recovery goes."

Paul has missed the last nine games and 12 of the last 14 with his knee injury.

He played two games after suffering the injury on Jan. 12 against the Orlando Magic. But he was reinjured against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 21 and hasn't played since.

Paul wants to make sure he's completely healthy this time before he resumes playing.

"I think the biggest thing is not only me getting healthy, but Chauncey, and really seeing what our team is like," Paul said. "My knee got injured Grant Hill's first game back, so we haven't had an opportunity to see what our team is made of."

Asked what it looked like to see 13 players practicing, Griffin couldn't stop laughing.

"It felt weird to have everybody out there," Griffin said. "It's nice, though. It'll be nice to come out of the locker room and do layups and you don't have to get a layup every 10 seconds."

Bledsoe in dunk contest

Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe will participate in the Slam Dunk contest during the NBA All-Star weekend in Houston. The NBA also announced the other five players in the Feb. 16 contest: last year's slam dunk champion Jeremy Evans (Utah), plus Kenneth Faried (Denver),  Gerald Green (Indiana), Terrence Ross (Toronto) and James White (New York).

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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