GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. ROCKETS - 11/4/13
Game #4 | November 4, 2013
STAPLES Center | Los Angeles, CA
LOS ANGELES – There was a moment early in training camp when Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he told his team they should score 100 points per game with ease.
On Monday night it was more like 130 points. The Clippers put together an historic offensive performance en route to a 137-118 victory over the previously unbeaten Houston Rockets at Staples Center.
It was the third win in a row for the Clippers (3-1) and the sixth straight at home dating back to April 3, 2013. Moreover, it was one of the most prolific performances since the team moved to Los Angeles 30 years ago.
They matched a team record with a 78-point first half, scored at least 137 points for the first time since 2009 and they made 15 3-pointers for just the sixth time in L.A. team history.
“I think if we continue to stay in our spacing and run our continuity,” Rivers said, “we should be able to score every night.”
On Monday the Clippers continued an unprecedented early-season scoring outburst. Since dropping their opener, they have scored 110 points or more in each of the last three games.
J.J. Redick had 26, Chris Paul had 23 points and 17 assists, Jamal Crawford had 21 off the bench, and Blake Griffin added 18 points and seven rebounds in the wire-to-wire win. Seven players in all wound up in double digits.
“We couldn’t get a handle on them at all tonight,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. “They did whatever they wanted.”
It started in opening five minutes for the Clippers. They jumped out to a 20-6 lead, scoring on seven of their first 10 possessions and paving the way for a 42-point first quarter. It was likely what Rivers was thinking when he brought up the team’s potential offensive prowess.
Fourteen seconds after DeAndre Jordan out-jumped Dwight Howard, who was making his return to Los Angeles after signing with the Rockets as a free agent this summer, Paul found Redick curling around a Jordan screen for a 16-footer from the elbow. The play was something the Clippers seemingly found at will.
Redick had 15 points in the first quarter and Paul had nine assists and after a Byron Mullens layup with 30.8 seconds to go, they owned a 42-25 lead.
“I thought we did a decent job in the first quarter and the third quarter of containing guys and doing what we wanted to do [defensively],” Griffin said. “Offensively, we played with great pace, got the ball out quick, scored in transition and scored in the half-court and that’s what we want.”
Pace is a word Rivers has thrown around a lot. He wants the team pushing the ball up the floor for early offense after makes and misses and using its athletic advantage in transition as much as possible. But he also wants movement and motion. Monday’s win was a primary example of what Rivers and Associate Head Coach Alvin Gentry are looking for.
“It’s not like we’re just running, we’re running into sets,” Rivers explained. ”You can see the second actions. I thought we scored a lot on the pick and roll, the swing, the pin down and the spacing. It’s good because you can run that slow or fast, and that’s preparation for later because you’re not going to be able to get all of these breaks, but you can still run the same motion.”
The Clippers begin a three-game road trip Wednesday night in Orlando… Crawford passed Eddie Jones for No. 15 all-time in 3-point makes. Crawford has 1,550 career 3-pointers… It was the 96th consecutive sellout for the Clippers… Griffin is 15-for-20 from the free throw line in his last three games… Howard was booed nearly every time he touched the ball. He spent most of the first half in foul trouble and finished the game with 13 points and nine rebounds… The 38 3-point attempts by the Clippers was a new franchise record… Omri Casspi led the Rockets with 19 points… Mullens went 5-for-6 from the field and finished with 12 points. His most in three appearances with the Clippers…
Clippers center Byron Mullens on making his first 3-pointer at Staples Center as a Clipper:
“Tonight was really good, nothing was rushed. I hit the open three my first shot of the game. I was wide open. I had a couple of rolls to the rim, which me and Doc and the team have been working on this week. It felt good, especially to hit that big three. That one three at home. I kind of felt the pressure, being at home, shooting threes. My first one fell and I’m kind of relieved a little bit.”
Clippers point guard Chris Paul on how he approaches offense:
“Contrary to what people say, I like to play at that up-tempo style, running and moving and stuff like that. We’ve got guys that play like that now, too. [J.J. Redick] never stops moving. It’s fun basketball and when we get stops I think everybody on our team’s eyes light up because we have so many options.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on team’s defense:
“I think our defense is pretty good. It’s what’s [getting] our leads. Then we break down. I thought early on we were scoring and getting stops, scoring and getting stops, and right now it seems when we that lead, we kind of break down our focus.”
Rockets center Dwight Howard on the game:
“They got off to a great start. We let them do what they like to do. We didn’t cancel it out. Next time we play them, we will have a better game plan.
Clippers guard J.J. Redick on where they can improve defensively:
“We have a ways to go defensively. I think we’re feeling more and more comfortable in our half-court defense. When teams are going against our set defense, I think we’re doing a pretty good job. We’re starting to really understand some stuff. We’ve got to do a better job in transition getting matched up and we talked about it before the game, our live turnovers, those are really hurting us because we’re not getting back. And second-chance opportunities are really hurting us.”
CROWN ROYAL SHOT OF THE GAME
By: Ben Haber | Follow @HaberBen
The Playoffs do not come around until April, but on Monday, Staples Center will feature two NBA title hopefuls in the Clippers and the Houston Rockets.
The Clippers (2-1) are playing their first opponent outside of the Pacific Division.
The chance to perhaps make an early-season statement comes via the Rockets, who are 3-0 and atop the Western Conference standings through the NBA’s first week. The Rockets made the splash of the summer by signing Dwight Howard, which according to Clippers head coach Doc Rivers, gives the team much needed balance compared to last season.
“The difference is that they have a team that can go both ways,” River said prior to practice Sunday. “Last year, it seemed like when a big team got into them and forced them out of that, they didn’t have anywhere to go. Now, they have a big way to go. They’re just a more versatile basketball team. And they’re better, they got Dwight Howard.”
The Clippers’ defense could be tested from the perimeter and from the interior. The Rockets were one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA last season and they added one of the best post players in basketball this summer. The Clippers, on the other hand, have surrendered 110.7 points per game, ranking 29th in the league, including allowing opponents to shoot 32-for-67 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range.
So far, the Clippers have made up for their defensive problems by boasting the highest scoring offense in the league (113 points per game)
DeAndre Jordan vs. Dwight Howard
Jordan was born in Houston, Texas and has turned into one of their homegrown stars. Howard hopes to become their imported star. Both centers sport uncanny athleticism and make their presence felt primarily on defense. In 2012-13 Howard matched up against the Clippers four times while playing for the Lakers, averaging 19.25 points, 8.75 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Jordan tallied 6.75 points per game, 9.75 rebounds and 1.0 block in those same encounters.
In 2013-14, Jordan already seems much improved, but facing Howard will not get any easier.
“You’ve got to do your work early,” Jordan said when asked how to guard Howard. “You can’t let him come down and just post where he wants to. You’ve got to push him off the spot. And try to get him in spots where he’s uncomfortable.”
Within the star-studded matchup, Jordan and Howard will figuratively and literally stand tallest.
THINGS TO WATCH
1. Rebounding. The 6-foot-11 Dwight Howard may be considered the best center in basketball, but for the Rockets, he plays power forward. Omer Asik holds down the other big man slot at 7-feet tall. The tandem are guiding the Rockets to the second best rebounding numbers in basketball, bringing in 48.3 per game.
The Clippers are placing emphasis on combating the Rockets on the boards and have rebounded better after a disappointing effort against the Lakers on opening night. Jordan, Griffin and company helped them earn the category advantage in their previous two contests.
Rivers explained how they’ve improved on the boards.
“I just think we’ve played our guys, to be honest,” he said. “In preseason we had all kinds of different lineups in and in game one we got outworked. Then since then, we’ve played our guys and we’re going to be a decent rebounding team.”
2. Three-point shooting. Spreading the floor and connecting from “Bingo” land has proven to be a pivotal statistic for the Clippers. In the Clippers two wins, the team averaged 40.4 percent (21-for-52) from the 3-point marker. Jamal Crawford headlines the hot shooting from beyond the arc by going 50 percent (8-for-16). J.J. Redick was brought to Los Angeles to give Jordan and Griffin some room in the paint, and the decision is paying off as he has drained 37.5 percent (6-for-16) from that distance and scored 14.3 points per contest.
Jared Dudley provides the offense with another lethal shooter from the wing, especially in transition and from the corner. The Clippers lacked production in those facets last season. In addition, Paul is 38.4 percent (5-for-13) from long range and appears more willing to launch from there.
3. Pick-and-roll defense. The pick-and-roll offense is a staple of the Rockets offense. James Harden ranks among the best playmakers in the NBA, posting 26.3 points per game, 4.3 assists and 3.7 rebounds. Kevin McHale lets Harden be the floor general, deciding when it is appropriate to pull up and shoot or pass to the open man. The options to the Rockets pick-and-roll game are not solely between two players in Harden and Howard. Chandler Parsons and others find open spaces from 3-point range and give Harden another reliable option if the defense collapses. The Clippers are going to need to decide from the outset to either switch on these situations or stick with their defender. That decision and how it is executed could be the deciding factor to the game.
Rockets starting point guard Patrick Beverley (abdominal tear) is expected to be out. Omri Casspi (ankle sprain) plans on returning to the lineup, according to Rockets.com reporter Jason Friedman…Crawford is three 3-pointers away from moving ahead of Eddie Jones for No. 15 all-time…Paul, Griffin, Howard and Harden were all members of the 2013 Western Conference All-Star team…Jordan, Griffin and Asik finished among the top 15 in shooting percentage during the 2012-13 season…The Clippers boast the most 10-plus steal games since the beginning of last season with 43…The Clippers won the season series 2-1 over the Rockets in 2012-13…
COMING AND GOING
LAST TIME OUT