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Clippers FYI

The Clippers' strategy is simple: Win

Chris Paul says team with a 28-8 mark is 'just buying time' before a late playoff push.

January 11, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Chris Paul drives around Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo.
Chris Paul drives around Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

They are 36 games into the season, not quite at the halfway mark, and the Clippers are playing some of the best basketball in the NBA.

They have a 28-8 record, the best record in the NBA before Friday night's games, a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

But there is so much more basketball to be played and the Clippers are very aware of that.

"I think for us, it's all about adding up wins," guard Chris Paul said. "That's what we're trying to do, just get as many wins as possible."

The Clippers have a comfortable lead over second-place Golden State in the Pacific Division.

"When you do get in that late playoff push, it's all about home-court advantage," Paul said. "Most of all, we're trying to get guys healthy. So we're just buying time."

When the Clippers play the Orlando Magic on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, it will be only their second game this week. That comes after they played five games last week.

The Clippers took Thursday off, but went back to practice on Friday.

"We've had two days of rest now," Paul said. "So we should be ready to go tomorrow."

Respecting Orlando

The Clippers remember how they lost earlier in the season at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Orleans Hornets, two teams with records below .500.

The Clippers recall having to answer questions about playing down to the level of their opponents.

Lately, the Clippers haven't had to answer questions like that and they hope to keep it that way.

So when they face a Magic team Saturday that has lost 10 consecutive games and has a 12-23 record, the Clippers say they won't be overlooking Orlando.

"I wouldn't say let your guard down," forward Blake Griffin said. "Some games you might be a little more amped up for. That's the way I look at it. I never really try to let my guard down at all, no matter what the team's record is. I think Orlando has lost several in a row, but they have been in every single game.

"So, that's a dangerous team. A team that plays extremely hard like they do, that's not something that you can overlook."

Hill status report

Though Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said Grant Hill looked "good" in practice on Friday, the 6-8 forward still remains a game-time decision.

Hill hasn't played since the exhibition games in China in October because of bruised bone in his right knee.

He has increased his practice activity and had hoped to play against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday, but was held out.

Now Hill hopes to play Saturday against the Magic.

"He got up and down a little bit. He's got to get his wind," Del Negro said Friday. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow and then we'll make that decision before the game. He's been wanting to play for a while now, but there is a process in place for him."

Del Negro said Chauncey Billups (tendinitis in left foot) has picked up his pace in practice, but said that the early part of next week is when the 6-foot-3 guard will "start doing stuff."

"He's not nearly as far along as Grant," Del Negro said.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter: @BA_Turner

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