LOS ANGELES, Cal -- Chauncey Billups is back in the starting lineup for the Los Angeles Clippers, just in time to begin what they hope is an extended run in the playoffs. The veteran guard's mere presence was enough for his teammates in their sixth straight win, 93-77 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.
He had four points -- all on free throws -- while playing 17 minutes, just under the limit set for him after he missed eight games with a strained right groin.
I was happy to be out there running around, said Billups, who shot 0 for 5 from the field. I was a little too excited with my shots.
They end the regular season on Wednesday at Sacramento, and another win or a Memphis loss would ensure the Clippers have home-court advantage to start the playoffs.
Will Barton scored 17 points and Joel Freeland added 13 for the Blazers, who never led while losing their 12th in a row. The Clippers were dominant in the paint (46-30) and on the boards (51-33) while wrapping up the season series 3-1.
They picked up their defense and their energy, and as soon as that happens, it's tough to maintain yours, Freeland said. They were running. They were beating us on the fast breaks and things like that. It was tough, but we had to try and keep more composed than what we were, but we couldn't seem to do that.
NOTES: The Blazers started four rookies -- Barton, Victor Claver, Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard -- for the second time in franchise history. The quartet also started against the Lakers last week. ... Portland wraps up its losing season against Golden State on Wednesday. ... A 27-year-old man hit a half-court shot to win a new car, the second time it's happened this season. Jordan led the applause for him during a timeout.