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Chauncey Billups: Mr. Big Shot does it again

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| Apr. 25, 2007

chauncey billupsChauncey Billups is the most clutch outside shooter in the NBA.

There, I said it. After watching Billups stop cold another late-game surge by Orlando Monday to seal a 98-90 victory for Detroit and a 2-0 lead in the first round best-of-seven series, I am convinced.

No player in the NBA makes more big 3-pointers than Billups. His ability to drill contested triples when his team needs points is reminiscent of Reggie Miller. The only difference, of course, is in the position the two play. Miller ran off screens, caught the ball in rhythm and went straight into his shooting motion. For the most part, Billups has to create his 3-point attempts, which isn't easy considering he stands a modest 6 feet, 3 inches.

Billups is able to create space from his defender despite everyone in the building knowing he's going to shoot from behind the arc. That is one reason he's so special. The other is that he sinks the difficult shots, which have a tendency to rip out the opponent's heart.

Monday was just another day at The Palace for Mr. Big Shot, as he's appropriately called. After Orlando cut a 15-point deficit to seven in just over two minutes midway through the final quarter, Billups hit a 28-foot triple over the arm of an outstretched defender to extend Detroit's lead back to 10 points.

Later, following an Orlando basket that narrowed the margin to six with just over a minute to play, Billups showed off his versatility, driving to the basket, drawing a foul and making a twisting left-handed layup.

After the free throw, the game was as good as over.

Billups had done it again.

Everybody knows about Gilbert "Hibachi" Arenas and Kobe Bryant. Their heroics are shown on sports highlight shows - and even non-sports news shows - over and over. Billups, on the other hand, doesn't get the exposure simply because often times his shots aren't as dramatic as Arenas' 30-footers at the buzzer or Bryant's made shots while falling out of bounds.

But Billups is the most consistently clutch of the three - and of anyone else in the NBA. Dwyane Wade may be the best at getting to the free throw line. Tim Duncan may be the most clutch post threat late in a game. When it comes to hitting a big shot for three points, however, Billups is the man.

I'm sure we'll see a lot more clutch play from him as the playoffs continue.

Other insights

Don't count Utah out in its series against the Houston Rockets.

Yes, the Jazz trail 2-0 now after falling 98-90 in Houston Monday night. But now they're headed home. And almost nobody is better at home than the Jazz. Utah finished the regular season an impressive 31-10 at home. It will be very difficult to beat there.

Expect the home fans to spark Mehmet Okur and Deron Williams, who have struggled the first two games. Utah will win at least one of the next two games, but if Houston is able to steal a game, it should close out this series on its home floor in Game 5.

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