Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NBA [Print without images]

Monday, January 2, 2012
Clippers' Chauncey Billups practices

By Arash Markazi
ESPNLosAngeles.com

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups, who has been out with a strained right groin since last week, practiced with the team Monday, and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said he hopes to have him back in the starting lineup Wednesday night when the Clippers play the Houston Rockets.

"He looks good, he's feeling better," Del Negro said. "I expect him to play tomorrow and we'll see how he feels tomorrow in practice. He probably could have played yesterday if push came to shove, but he has a couple more days here to get healthy and give us some production on Wednesday."

Billups strained his right groin during practice last Thursday after the Clippers' game against the San Antonio Spurs and has missed the Clippers last two games against the Chicago Bulls and Portland Trail Blazers.

Veteran guard Mo Williams started in place of Billups against Chicago but was replaced in the starting lineup Sunday by Randy Foye, allowing Williams to get acclimated to the sixth man role he will have this season.

"Mo does a nice job for us off the bench," Del Negro said. "Mo was a huge factor for us winning that game yesterday. His energy defensively is contagious."

Against Portland, Billups was like an extension of the Clippers' coaching staff, sitting alongside the coaches at the front of the bench, wearing his suit, and often standing up and yelling directions at players.

"Chauncey is a student of the game and he likes the chess match that's involved in managing the game," Del Negro said. "He obviously has tremendous experience, but I'm much more comfortable when he's out on the court so hopefully he can get healthy and get out there and give us some more depth and some more guys to go to. Hopefully Reggie (Evans) can do the same and we can get on the same page with everybody as soon as possible."

Evans, who was signed by the team Dec. 22, practiced with the team Monday and Del Negro said he hopes Evans will make his debut with the Clippers this week after sitting out with a sprained right foot.

The one positive of Billups suffering his injury when he did is the Clippers will not have a road game until Jan. 10 when they play Portland and will only be leaving Los Angeles three times this month.

"It's great to have that," Billups said. "We got lucky as far as that's concerned as far as being at home and for everyone to understand what protecting your homecourt is all about. It's easier to do that when you have a lot of home games early."

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.