MIAMI (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers are getting healthier. The Miami Heat are fighting the flu.
Chauncey Billups, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin returned to the Clippers' lineup on Friday night, when the Pacific Division leaders visited the reigning NBA champion Heat — who were without Ray Allen and Chris Bosh, both sidelined by an illness that has been going around the team.
Miami did have Dwyane Wade in the lineup, after he wasn't feeling well earlier Friday and missed the team's morning shootaround.
"We're trying to get our team back together," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Right now it's just about trying to manage through the injuries, trying to see if we can become whole as we move through this long road trip."
Del Negro said he would manage the minutes of those players who are coming back from injuries, a list that also includes Jamal Crawford, who has been bothered by a sore right shoulder.
Billups has appeared in only three games this season and has most recently been bothered by left foot tendinitis. Paul missed the Clippers' last nine games before Friday with a bruised right kneecap, and Griffin sat out two games with a strained left hamstring.
For as strong as the Clippers have been at times this season — including a 17-game winning streak from Nov. 28 through Dec. 30 — Thursday marked the first time Del Negro had all 15 players available for practice. Even that was limited, since Griffin's leg kept him from participating in any full-court portion of that workout.
"We've got to get our rotations down, figure out who's healthy and what we can go to at certain times," Del Negro said. "And that's going to take a little more concentration on our guys' part and understanding what we can do out there on a consistent basis."