Without Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverly the Rockets led the Los Angeles Clippers after a first quarter that saw Blake Griffin leave the game with a back injury. The lead didn’t last much longer than the opening period, and the Rockets lost 118-107 at Toyota and there’s a big reason why.
“We didn’t have any answers for Chris Paul.”
That was the last sentence Kevin McHale uttered at his postgame press conference. Without Beverly, the Rockets stuck Chandler Parsons on Paul and it worked for a little while. In the first quarter, Paul was held to two points on four shots, and thanks to Parsons’ 11 points, the Rockets led 33-23. They stretched the lead to 15 a little more than two minutes into the second, but over the next nine minutes the Clippers outscored them 32-10 and took a 61-58 lead into halftime.
Paul scored 17 of his 30 points in the second quarter. He finished the game with 12 assists and one turnover.
“He did everything,” McHale said. “He just went wherever he wanted with the ball.”
Houston opened the second half on a 9-2 run, but Los Angeles was able to get the lead back and take an 88-84 lead into the fourth quarter, and the Clippers never led by less than five after the first 50 seconds of the final period. With Griffin only playing six minutes, DeAndre Jordan stepped up and scored 20 points, grabbing 12 rebounds while blocking six shots. Jamal Crawford gave them 22 off the bench.
Parsons scored 17 points after the first quarter, but the Rockets offense was never the same.
“After the first quarter we kind of struggled moving the ball,” McHale said. “We didn’t have good ball movement. We couldn’t sustain anything offensively. They switched and we didn’t do what we had done earlier which was attacking with the ball and we got really stagnant.”
James Harden led the Rockets with 32 points, but only knocked down 3 of 11 three-point attempts, he was also responsible for six of Houston’s 19 turnovers, 10 fewer than the Clippers.
The loss snaps the Rockets five game win streak and drops them to 49-23 on the season, two games back of the Clippers for the three seed in the West. The loss also gives Los Angeles a sweep of the four game regular season series, which is something Parsons wanted to avoid.
“This was a big game for us just confidence wise knowing we can beat them cause getting swept is not fun.”
Following a two game road trip that will take them to Brooklyn and Toronto, the Rockets will come home and try to avoid the same fate against Oklahoma City.
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