HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If veteran guard Chauncey Billups can do anything to cure what ails the Los Angeles Clippers, losers of four straight games, we will all find out tonight.
Billups is expected to make his season debut tonight against Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center (10:30 p.m. ET on NBA TV), per Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
It’s an injury return that couldn’t come at a better time for the Clippers, who have found themselves embroiled in one mess after another lately during their mini-slump.
Vinny Del Negro is suddenly on the hot seat (his normal spot, nothing new) and the Clippers are struggling to find the rhythm they had when they kicked off the season on a 8-2 surge.
Chris Paul was critical of his team’s effort, and some people feel his head coach, Vinny Del Negro, after Monday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. He even tweeted about it, creating an uproar with words that lacked the context of his more nuanced reaction that only some seemed to pay attention to:
“We lost to a very … let me choose my words … not a very talented team but well coached,” Paul said. “I watch them play every game that they play. One thing about [coach] Monty [Williams] is they’re going to play hard. If you watch their games, they been to a couple of overtimes and they’ve only been in a couple of blowouts, which were against Denver and Oklahoma City. They’re going to play hard. … With those guys playing like that and us waiting until the fourth quarter to turn it on, it’s going to be tough.”
Paul’s praise for his former coach, Williams, was seen as a direct shot at Del Negro.
The return of the Clippers’ most prominent leader not named Paul, however, could be the infusion of positive energy needed to get this team back on track.
Of course, Billups hasn’t played since he tore his left Achilles tendon last Feb. 6. Before that injury he was playing a critical role alongside Paul, averaging 15 points and four assists, in one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league.
Now he joins not only Paul, but his replacement, Willie Green, and bench stars Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe, in what has to be one of the deepest and most explosive backcourt rotations in all of basketball.