Clippers' Grant Hill, right, shown grabbing a rebound away from Orlando's… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
About 45 minutes before the Clippers played the Orlando Magic on Saturday at Staples Center, Grant Hill put a brace on his right knee and a white sleeve to cover it.
He then laced up his sneakers, a smile crossing his face because Hill was finally going to play in his first regular-season game after missing the first 36 because of a bone bruise in his right knee.
Hill played six minutes, 25 seconds. He missed all three of his field goals, but scored two points on two free throws in the 104-101 loss to the Magic.
"It was definitely good to get out there and play," Hill said. "I wasn't sure if was going to play or not."
Hill had not played in a game since Oct. 14, an exhibition game in China against the Miami Heat.
He checked into the game at the start of the fourth quarter to a standing ovation. He missed his first shot, a 15-footer. He scored his first two points of the season on free throws with 9:39 left in the game.
Hill is an 18-year veteran, but he admitted to feeling tension at home before the game and even before he checked into the game.
"When Vinny called my number, I was really nervous," Hill said of Coach Vinny Del Negro. "But I think that's part of it. You're always nervous.…
"But the most important thing is that my knee felt good. My legs were a little heavy, but as long as you put together consecutive days and consecutive weeks of health, then the basketball, the timing and all that comes. I passed the test today. It wasn't great, but at least I passed."
Few foul shots
The Clippers made all of their free throws against the Magic.
That was the good news.
The bad news was that they shot only six free throws.
"I thought we shot too many jump shots," Del Negro said. "We didn't attack them. They don't really have any shot-blockers up there. We kept shooting jump shots. We talked about penetrating the close-outs and getting to the rim. We didn't execute very well in any aspect today.'
Chris Paul was the only starter to get to the foul line, making his only attempt. Jamal Crawford was three for three from the line.
But Blake Griffin didn't get one free throw despite tying his season high with 30 points on 15-for-22 shooting.
"We only shot six free throws and that is unheard of, especially when Blake shoots 22 shots and has no free throws," Paul said. "So that is not typical for us."