T.J. SIMERS

Clippers' Chauncey Billups is the perfect complement to Chris Paul

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But a lot happened. Billups had the Clippers' front office explain their vision, and then to demonstrate what kind of guy he is, Billups accepted the role of shooting guard.

"If Chris isn't here, I probably don't do it," Billups said.

As a point guard the 6-foot-3 Billups was bigger than most, allowing him to overpower opponents and direct his team's play. He was one of the best in the game.

But as a shooting guard, "the guy I'm playing against is usually bigger now than me," Billups said. "And I don't have the ball in my hands."

Yet it works, and so obviously these are not your Lakers.

Now if the Clippers want to make sure Paul re-ups this off-season, first they'd best extend a contract offer to Billups to guarantee he's not going anywhere.

"Having Chauncey on the court gives me much more confidence and the chance sometimes to work without the ball while he plays point guard," Paul said. "That makes the game that much more fun."

Billups went down last February with the Achilles' injury, and for awhile it appeared Paul was more hurt than Billups.

Everyone else, meanwhile, wondered if Billups might recover at age 36.

"Not me," Billups said. "I knew the battle I was in for, but I also know my work ethic and how much I wanted to play again. And I wasn't going to end my career being carried off the court."

He might want to rethink that if the Clippers go on to write one of the most improbable stories in sports and win a championship.

As dinky as he might be, but knowing his admiration for his friend, I would fully expect to see Paul carrying Billups off the court in victory.

Just as long as they return together.

t.j.simers@latimes.com
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