Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Updated: January 5, 3:48 AM ET
Chauncey Billups solid in return
By Pedro Moura
Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Guard Chauncey Billups returned to the Los Angeles Clippers' starting lineup Wednesday against the Houston Rockets, six days after he suffered a strained right groin that kept him out of the team's past two games.
In 23 minutes, Billups scored 13 points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. He also added four assists and had no turnovers while spending the final 15 minutes on the bench in the Clippers' comfortable 117-89 win.
"There were no problems," Billups said afterward. "I felt great. If I had started to feel any other way, I would've let them know."
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said the 35-year-old Billups added multiple aspects that had been missing from the team in the two games he sat out -- one a loss to the Chicago Bulls and the other a win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
"It was good for us," Del Negro said of Billups' return. "It gives you more balance, more depth, more energy."
Billups originally suffered the injury in a morning practice after the Clippers' loss last week to San Antonio. He missed the next two practices and games before suiting up Tuesday and participating in all of practice.
Before Wednesday's game, Del Negro said he would pay a bit more attention to the guard's minutes than normal but wouldn't restrict him to a "set limit." He played only 23 because L.A. opened up a big lead on Houston, but likely would have logged more in the fourth quarter had the game been close.
Afterward, Billups said he anticipated playing in the Clippers' next game, Saturday against Milwaukee, but couldn't commit.
"We'll just have to see," he said. "Gotta keep monitoring it."
In other team news, forward Solomon Jones made his Clippers debut with just under five minutes left in the game, entering for Brian Cook.
Jones, signed Tuesday after working out for the team Monday, attempted one shot, a missed 15-foot jumper, and recorded one rebound, defending Houston's Patrick Patterson for most of the time he was in the game.
Pedro Moura is a regular contributor to ESPNLosAngeles.com.