Chauncey Billups: Mr. Big Shot does it again
Chauncey 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
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.