T.J. SIMERS

Clippers' Chauncey Billups is the perfect complement to Chris Paul

Chauncey Billups, former NBA Finals MVP, gladly switched positions to play a supporting role alongside Chris Paul. And that says volumes about Clippers' chemistry.

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I'm going to gush here, the local columnist going homer on you again as I do so often.

Obviously I won't be writing about the Lakers.

Instead this is going to be an ode to a great friendship, and how two incredible players would rather praise each other than talk about themselves.

So no way this could have anything to do with the Lakers.

But as inviting, competitive and cool as I've been telling everyone that I find Chris Paul, I just spent time with his twin, Chauncey Billups.

Together they accounted for 15 assists in the first half Tuesday night, setting up nine slams for Lob City. It's about time folks here had some fun at a basketball game again.

Paul fed Blake Griffin on three consecutive rim rattlers to close out the first half and everyone was on their feet while DeAndre Jordan dunked off a behind-the-back pass from Billups.

The slam fest would continue in the second half with a Paul pass to Griffin and a left-handed jam so good that Griffin's teammate Caron Butler just stood there with raised hands clapping like everyone else in the joint.

Once again the Clippers have hit stride, Billups making his 10th start after recovering from a ruptured Achilles' tendon, and yes, he makes that much difference.

Billups is a star, oozing with experience and poise, Mr. Big Shot, a NBA Finals MVP for an NBA champion, and he's talking about the best player on the team like it's just taken for granted everyone knows it's Paul.

"He is," Billups insists. "I had my 15 minutes; he's in the moment now."

Paul, meanwhile, talks in reverential tones about Billups like he might be a blood relative donating him a kidney.

Kobe and Dwight might make for better column fodder.

But Paul, Billups and Griffin have the Clippers mentioned in the same sentence as this season's NBA championship contenders and that's man-bites-dog material.

If you recall, Paul was headed to the Lakers and Billups was wanting to go anywhere but to the Clippers.

"I was very reluctant about this situation only because of what the Clippers used to be," Billups said.

"I'm a winner, and I want to win at any cost and I don't have 10 more years to play. I want to take advantage of my years. And what I thought the Clippers were, I wanted no part of."

Paul, meanwhile, never complained when shifted from the Lakers to the Clippers before last season. And knowing what we know now, wasn't he clairvoyant?

Paul said he was excited about the chance to play with Billups, but he never expected it to happen. "He's a point guard too," Paul said.

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