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Clippers' Chauncey Billups still finding his comfort zone

A position switch and a debilitating injury have slowed the veteran's progress but haven't dampened his spirit.

March 09, 2013|By Broderick Turner
  • Chauncey Billups, shown going up against Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute, is averaging 7.9 points on 40% shooting in 19.1 minutes per game for the Clippers this season.
Chauncey Billups, shown going up against Milwaukee's Luc Mbah a Moute,… (Michael Nelson / EPA )

The first adjustment Chauncey Billups had to make when he joined the Clippers last season was mental. The second adjustment Billups had to make this season has been physical.

Through it all, the 16-year veteran has accepted it as a challenge to overcome.

Billups was a point guard the first 14 years of his career. He called the plays, ran the team and was that soothing voice.

When he joined the Clippers during the locked-out 2011-12 season, Billups was moved to shooting guard after All-Star point guard Chris Paul was acquired from the New Orleans Hornets.

"Well, that's always a challenge. I go from being a point guard to basically kind of spotting up and waiting," Billups said. "And that's tough for me. But being on this team, it makes it a lot easier having a point guard in Chris who I trust. That makes it easy for me too. But that is a challenge."

Billups said he had just started to "figure it out" on how to play shooting guard 20 games into last season.

But then he suffered a ruptured left Achilles' tendon on Feb. 20, 2012, that required season-ending surgery.

He sat out the first 14 regular-season games this season rehabilitating his Achilles' injury, played in three games, then missed 34 games because of tendinitis in his left foot and another game because of a sore back.

Slowly, Billups, 36, said his "body movements" and conditioning are improving and his game is coming along.

"I'm feeling a lot better now," said Billups, who is averaging 7.9 points on 40% shooting in 19.1 minutes per game. "I've still got a little ways to go. But I just think that I'm going to get healthier all the way through. There won't be a stage where I'll be totally 100 [%], but I think that I'll continue to get healthier all the way through the season."

Clippers still vulnerable to three-pointers

Coach Vinny Del Negro constantly is preaching to his team that it has to play better defense against the three-point shot.

Well, here's why:

In the Clippers' 20 losses this season, opponents have shot an amazing 46.7% from three-point range.

For the season, the Clippers let teams shoot 34.5% from three-point range, the sixth-highest in the NBA.

"I think since the All-Star break, we haven't had great defensive intensity from start to finish," Del Negro said. "We haven't played hard enough on a long and consistent basis. We've had our moments. We've got to pick our intensity up here on the defensive end as much as anywhere. And that's one of the areas that has to get better."

Crawford, Bledsoe nursing injuries

Guards Jamal Crawford (sore left ankle) and Eric Bledsoe (sore left calf) didn't practice Saturday and are listed as game-time decisions by the Clippers for Sunday's game against the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center.

Etc.

The Clippers signed guard Maalik Wayns to a 10-day contact. Wayns averaged 12.4 points and three assists in nine games with Rio Grande Valley of the NBA's Development League.

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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