Grant Hill nears return from injury

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers forward Grant Hill went through a full practice for the first time in nearly three months Tuesday and will be a game-time decision for Wednesday's game against the Dallas Mavericks.

Hill, who has not played this season, was sidelined with bone bruises in his right knee. He went through a light practice Monday, but Tuesday provided him an opportunity to go through contact drills and a five-on-five scrimmage for the first time since the Clippers returned from a preseason trip to China on Oct. 15.

"We'll see," Hill said when asked if he would play against Dallas. "There may be some rust, and we may wait until Saturday (against Orlando), but I feel good. Today was a good day."

Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro thought Hill looked good and said there is a chance he could play Wednesday if he feels good after the team's shootaround.

"He looked good," Del Negro said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow. We'll go through shootaround and we'll sit down and make a judgment."

Hill appeared in two exhibition games against the Miami Heat in China but hasn't played since, and Del Negro has been careful to bring the 40-year-old back slowly from the injury. Del Negro, however, is anxious to see how Hill will fit into what is already the deepest team in the NBA.

"He just gives us more depth," Del Negro said. "He gives us more experience. He's very difficult defensively in terms of versatility. He's very good in the open court, he can handle the ball. Grant is a top-level pro when he's healthy. We just got to get him back into game condition and get him accustomed to what we're doing out there. It will take a little while but he said his knee felt good today."

Chauncey Billups, who has played in just three games this season, is nearing a return to practice after recovering from tendinitis in his left foot and could be back on the court by the end of the month.

Jamal Crawford, who has missed the past two games with a sore left foot, went through a light practice Tuesday and will also be a game-time decision on Wednesday. If Crawford sits out one more game, Hill could very well see his first action of the season.

"We have some key guys banged up," Del Negro said. "So if we have the opportunity to get Grant out there to take some minutes off those guys, it might be beneficial as the season goes on."