Chauncey Billups gets start

PLAYA VISTA, Calif. -- Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups practiced Monday and started Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Clippers forward Caron Butler, sidelined for much of Saturday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a sore right knee, didn't practice Monday but also started Tuesday.

Billups is officially listed as a game-time decision but said he is optimistic he will play after missing the past eight games with a right groin strain.

"I feel good," Billups said. "I practiced and the whole thing. The last three days I've been doing everything that the team is doing and practicing and the whole thing. Barring anything crazy I expect to be out there."

The Clippers have been more cautious with Billups' return after feeling they may have played him too quickly after he missed three games with the same groin injury and re-aggravated it while playing 13 minutes against the New Orleans Hornets on March 27.

Billups initially suffered the injury early in a game against the Sacramento Kings on March 19 and was taken out after playing just seven minutes.

"The last time, as soon as I felt good I went back out there because I wanted to help the guys on this push we're making," Billups said. "It probably wasn't the smartest decision so I learned from that and feel better about my decision-making this time."

Billups has played only 20 games this season while battling through a variety of injuries following his return from a torn left Achilles tendon last February.

Billups said he was going to reach out to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant on Monday after Bryant tore his left Achilles on Friday and underwent surgery Saturday, sidelining him 6-9 months.

"I'm going to speak to him today about everything," Billups said. "I feel bad for him. I don't like to see anybody go through that, especially him, he's a friend of mine. It sucks for him. For somebody like him and I felt the same way, I pretty much accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish in this game and he's done that too, but you look for different challenges.

"You don't want a challenge like that to come about but it happened. It's a big challenge, as it was for me, and he's going to be perfectly fine. He's going to get back to playing at a high level next season and be able to prove to everybody his toughness and his will."