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Clippers' Chauncey Billups slowly getting back up to speed

He has averaged 9.4 points on 45% shooting this season. The team has kept his playing time to about 20 minutes a game, but Tuesday he played almost 25 minutes.

February 28, 2013|By Broderick Turner

INDIANAPOLIS — Don't expect to hear Chauncey Billups get down on himself when his game is not quite up to par.

At 36, Billups is just happy to be back playing basketball for the Clippers after missing 49 games recovering from surgery to repair his left Achilles' tendon and tendinitis in his left foot.

In the 10 games he has played this season, Billups has averaged 9.4 points on 45% shooting (45% from three-point range).

"I'm able to move around," Billups said. "I'm still not in the type of condition that I need to be in. And just rust.

"I'm missing little bunnies [layups] from just rust from being out for so long. But I can live with that. Just put me out there. I know I can help win."

The Clippers have restricted Billups' minutes, preferring to keep him in the low 20s or less.

But he played a season-high 24 minutes 37 seconds and had five assists against the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.

"I was finally at a point where they can increase my minutes a little bit," Billups said. "With the exception of back-to-backs, they say they are going to keep me around 20. I'm just trying to keep pushing it up all the time and just get ready for that run."

There are signs that Billups is starting to get some of his game back.

When he filled in as the backup point guard against the Bobcats because regular backup Eric Bledsoe was out with a sore left calf, Billups gave starting point guard Chris Paul a rest and displayed some of his old point guard skills.

Billups maneuvered his way through traffic on the fastbreak against the Bobcats, searching for a finish. In what seemed like an instant, Billups whipped a behind-the-back left-handed pass to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk.

"I knew I could get it there," said Billups, who is right-handed. "I was just hoping that he saw it. I'm accustomed to doing that all the time. Y'all never get to see that because I'm never in position of playing point guard or bringing the ball up because I'm always spotting up.... But that's what I do, man."

Pacers a good challenge

The Indiana Pacers, with their depth, talent and defense-oriented game, will present the Clippers with a good test when the two teams play Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Though the Pacers won't have center Roy Hibbert while he serves his one-game suspension for his altercation with Golden State's David Lee (who also was suspended), Indiana still has All-Star Paul George and power forward David West.

"It's going to be a tough game," Paul said.

Etc.

Bledsoe is listed as day to day because of his injury, but Jamal Crawford, who missed the Charlotte game because of the birth of his daughter London in Seattle, will join the Clippers for the Pacers game.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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