Billups brings his clutch threes to LA
LOS ANGELES — They call Chauncey Billups "Mr. Big Shot" because of his penchant for hitting clutch baskets and making huge plays at crucial times.
Mr. Big Shot added to his legend Wednesday night, drilling a 22-footer with one second left to give the Clippers a 91-89 win over the Dallas Mavericks. L.A. has now won 7 of 8 at home this season and snapped a 10-game losing streak against the defending world champions. The Clippers are 8-4 after winning 2 of 3 in their first back-to-back-to-back stretch of the shortened season, playing without injured point guard Chris Paul (hamstring, day-to-day). Dallas dropped to 8-7 (2-5 on the road) and will likely be haunted by visions of Staples Center and last-second shots for a very long time.
Monday, it was Derek Fisher hitting a three-pointer with three seconds left to lift the Lakers to a 73-70 win over the Mavs. The shot Billups hit Wednesday was in virtually the same spot as Fisher's, but with even less time for Dallas to try and match it.
The win was especially gratifying for the Clippers, who, after a great win over New Jersey on Monday afternoon, showed up in Utah on Tuesday and got blasted by the Jazz, 108-79. Coach Vinny Del Negro was livid after the game, saying his team basically embarrassed itself with a lack of effort, which Billups said was an eye-opener for the them.
"That's what I'm most proud of," said the Clippers guard, who finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and three assists. "It was bad for our team to go on the road and lose a game like that, then come back [home], playing our third game in three days, and you're going against the defending world champs. For us to scratch and claw and come away with a win is a great accomplishment."
Joining Billups in victory was forward Blake Griffin, with 14 points and 17 rebounds; and center DeAndre Jordan, who compiled a season-high 19 points to go with nine rebounds and five blocks. The biggest difference-maker throughout, however, was guard Mo Williams, who returned after sitting out three games with a bruised foot. He went 11 for 15 off the bench, scoring 26 points and handing out four assists in 35 minutes. He also added a pair of steals.
Dirk Nowitzki and Delonte West led the losers with 17 each.
"I've been very frustrated," said Williams, "because I thought I'd be back, maybe Monday, then Tuesday, but the doctors shut me down.
"Tonight, I knew my team needed me to give them a lift with [Chris Paul] still out. And I'm also very proud of my teammates all the way around. We came together despite the circumstances and got the job done. We never quit."
Neither did the champs, who looked hopelessly beaten, down by five with just 41 seconds remaining and Billups with the ball. However, Mr. Big Shot made a big mistake, a bad pass that was stolen by Shawn Marion. The ball ended up in the hands of the cold-blooded Jason Terry, who calmly made a 28-foot three-pointer to make the score 88-86. After a Billups miss with 20 seconds remaining, the ball eventually got back to the clutch Terry, who once again hit a trey with five seconds left to give Dallas a one-point lead.
However, that allowed just enough time for Billups to inbound the ball to Griffin, get it back and hit the game-winner.
"Me getting the ball back to [Chauncey] was one of the options when the play was drawn up," said Griffin, who collected the 59th double-double of his career. "I could have kept it, but Jason Kidd was trailing a little on the play, so I got it to Chauncey and he did what he does."
Griffin also lavished praise on Williams.
"Mo is a great player, and we really needed him to come back and give us instant offense. He came [off the bench] and did that in a big, big way.
"[Williams and Chauncey] made all the plays we needed them to make, and when we needed them the most."
Billups has been the hero time and again since leading the Detroit Pistons to the 2004 NBA championship, so game-winning shots are taken in stride — most of the time. This one was bigger than many, though, because of the effect he expects the win to have on this team.
"We need to win games like this," Billups proclaimed, "because we're just starting to come together, learn each other's games. For us to get to our ultimate goal, we have to win the close games and have to beat the good teams, especially the defending champs.
"If we continue to do that — and I believe we will — then you'll see a lot of progress. And by the time the playoffs come around, we'll be ready."