GAMEDAY REPORT: CLIPPERS VS. ROCKETS - 11/9/13
Game #7 | November 9, 2013
Toyota Center | Houston, TX
HOUSTON – The Clippers seemed determined to not return home empty handed.
After two consecutive losses on their first extended road trip of the season, the Clippers rallied from 13 points down to defeat the Houston Rockets, 107-94, Saturday night at Toyota Center.
“We didn’t want to go back home 1-2, but we didn’t have a choice,” said Chris Paul, who finished with 14 points, 13 assists and five rebounds. “We needed to win this one. It’s already been a tough trip for us and this would’ve been horrible. It’s a Western Conference team and it puts us back over .500 after seven games. It’s a good win.”
Blake Griffin finished with 22 points and seven rebounds. J.J. Redick added 22 points. Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison combined for 26 points off the bench. And DeAndre Jordan finished with 12 points and 18 rebounds in arguably the best game of his career in his hometown of Houston.
When the game ended Clippers head coach Doc Rivers stayed on the court a little longer than usual and high-fived each player as they left the floor.
“It’s just a good team-builder for your team,” Rivers said. “Hang around, get it going. The defense won the game for you. That’s what won the game. I think [Houston had four] points the last six minutes [of the third quarter]. The whole second half [we allowed 39] points against a terrific offensive team.”
The Clippers (4-3) got back in the game by rolling off an 18-0 run between the third and fourth quarters that was precisely the kind of defense that was absent early on. They smothered the Rockets (4-3) inside and forced eight turnovers in the third period alone.
“Coach [Rivers] challenged us,” Crawford said. “He said, ‘Do it with defense. See how many stops you can get in a row.’ Because that breaks a team’s spirit: get five stops in a row, give up a basket. Get six stops in a row, give up a basket. I think our offense was coming from our defense.”
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said that once the Clippers’ offense got on track things “snowballed” for his squad. Ironically, the run coincided with Griffin and Paul saddled with four fouls apiece. Rivers stuck with both of his stars for more than six-straight minutes in the period and it paid off.
“I thought the biggest part of the game was Blake and Chris with four fouls,” Rivers said. “And we left them in the game and they didn’t pick up the fifth, either one of them. That was huge because it allowed us to get a run.”
Griffin, who was guarded by former Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard for most of the night, scored seven points down the stretch, including a wondrous step-through layup on Howard that was reminiscent of something McHale might have pulled off in his Boston Celtics heyday.
Paul made a pair of jumpers and Crawford threw in 11 of his 16 points in the fourth to help put the game away. But as much as it turned around with a 34-point final quarter, it was the Clippers’ ratcheted defensive intensity that ultimately won it.
“We kind of came out a little flat defensively and it had an effect on us offensively, but we stuck to it,” Jordan said. “They took tough shots and they ended committing some turnovers and getting some shot-clock violations. If we play like that we’re going to be tough.”
And Jordan was the anchor. He blocked three shots, altered plenty of others and helped hold Howard to 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting and just eight rebounds.
“He does so many things,” Rivers said of Jordan. “You don’t see the 30 points, but he creates more with his rebounding, with his defense. I think we played him 15-straight minutes in the game and we really felt like at that point we had nowhere else to go and he was playing so well. He kept saying he wanted to stay in. I thought his presence when we were all small and he stayed in there by himself as the only big was huge.”
Before the game Rivers talked about the “spurtability” that his team has shown. The difference between the first and second halves could not have proven it more so.
“We’ve actually played some defense for a couple of quarters in some games,” Rivers said in his pregame news conference. “So, it will come together.”
And it did during the last 24 minutes. Houston scored 39 points in the second half and finished shooting just 44.9 percent after topping the 50-percent plateau for most of the night.
Playing the Rockets for the second time in five days, the Clippers jumped out to a similar start to Monday. In the first six minutes of the first quarter, they led 18-8 behind eight of Redick’s 22 points. But they were outscored 18-4 to close the period and did not score in the final 3:40.
The lead eroded as quickly as they earned it when they stopped making shots. Nine of the Rockets’ first 11 field goals came within 4 feet of the basket, exacerbated by the Clippers’ eight first-half turnovers.
In some ways the Clippers were fortunate to be down just nine at halftime. They went 5:02 between the first and second quarter without a field goal and a Crawford free throw was their lone point.
But after a Jared Dudley 3-pointer tied it and a wild tip in by Crawford at the third-quarter buzzer where he tracked down a pull-up jumper by Redick gave the Clippers a 72-70 lead they never trailed again.
“We showed up to the fight late, which we can’t do,” Paul said. “They were a little bit grittier, a little bit scrappier than us and we finally said enough is enough.”
Matt Barnes (right thigh contusion) missed his third-straight game… The Clippers allowed 54 points in the paint, but only 16 in the second half. It is the seventh game in a row they have given up at least 40 points inside… Jordan picked up his 42nd double-double in his career, but first ever in Houston… Paul has a double-double in eight games in a row, dating back to last season… Chandler Parsons scored a game-high 23 points… Led by Redick’s career-high four, the Clippers recorded 10 steals in a game for the third time this season. They lead the league with 44 games with 10 steals or more in the last two seasons combined…
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan on returning to his hometown of Houston:
“It’s definitely fun to play in front of my family and my friends and people I went to high school and college with. It’s always fun, but bigger than that we’re still trying to come out here and get a win.”
Clippers guard Jamal Crawford on hitting two big 3-pointers in fourth quarter:
“My teammates and the coaching staff always put me in a terrific position. I just have the easy part of making the shots. I’m always comfortable in those positions. I’ve been doing it my whole life, just counting down the clock and trying to get a good look up.”
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale on the third quarter:
“We were on the line trying to get it to 13 and then it just snowballed from there. We missed some shots and we started doubting it and we stopped taking some shots that we needed to take. Then we got a lot of turnovers and then we just got really passive. The Clippers really took advantage of it.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers on defensive adjustments:
“When they went small it really hurt us. They were running single-side action and we were not in the right places. We saw it on the bench. We just couldn’t correct it until we got in at halftime. Even at the start of the third quarter I used two quick timeouts and still didn’t think we had the right body language.
“We knew what we were not doing and to a man they started doing it better. They started getting into the ball better, getting over picks, started talking.”
Clippers forward Blake Griffin on DeAndre Jordan’s play:
“He’s played great. His game goes far beyond points and even rebounds along. He blocks shots, he’s altered shots and shots that aren’t even taken because he’s down there are the things we see as well. As far as stats and all that he’s done an amazing job, but he’s done an even better job of being our anchor back there.”
By: Eric Patten | Follow @EricPatten
HOUSTON – Florida was unkind to the Clippers.
But after back-to-back losses to the Magic and Heat, they have a chance to salvage their three-game road trip against the Rockets.
It’s the second time this week the two teams have met.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he likes when teams play each other in close proximity on the schedule. “They should do that more often,” he said, referring to last season when the Clippers played the Warriors twice in a four-day period.
This situation is similar. The Clippers (3-3) beat the Rockets, 137-118, on Monday in Los Angeles and turn around to play them in Houston again Saturday night at Toyota Center. It is also a chance for L.A. to bookend its two game losing streak with wins over the Rockets (4-2).
“You can’t ever accept losing and accept being 3-3 when we feel like we should be better than that,” said Blake Griffin, who has produced at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in his last five games with the exception of the previous matchup with Houston. “It’s hard to be patient, but we all understand that it’s an extremely long season and teams that are playing their best in March, April, May and June are the ones who win. That’s what we want, but obviously we can’t in too big of a hole.”
Darren Collison vs. Jeremy Lin
Collison was a dynamo in the preseason but has yet to find his footing since returning from a bruised left kneecap that caused him to miss the Clippers’ preseason finale. He has not missed a regular season game, but Collison said he’s still trying to fit in with his new teammates. “When you’re playing with new players, you try to fit in you don’t want to step on anybody’s toes,” Collison said. “[In Miami] was the first time I really felt comfortable and now it’s a matter of going from there.”
He had a pair of 3-pointers on Thursday in 11:26.
Lin, on the other hand, has been shifted to a reserve role since the return of Patrick Beverley from injury. He’s still a key cog to what Houston head coach Kevin McHale is trying to do. McHale used Lin with Beverely in the fourth quarter on Thursday against the Lakers and Lin remains one of the team’s top scorers and its assist leader.
In the first meeting between the Clippers and Rockets, when McHale was forced to use a smaller lineup due to foul trouble, it allowed the Clippers to keep Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick on the floor at the same time. With Beverley and Lin potentially playing together it could expand the time Rivers uses Collison and Chris Paul.
THINGS TO WATCH
1. Small forward spot. Matt Barnes missed the past two games with a right thigh contusion that he sustained after Greg Smith the Rockets kneed him on Monday. Barnes said he hopes to play Saturday. Both Barnes and Jared Dudley, per Rivers’ postgame news conference in Miami, are nursing injuries. Dudley, Rivers said, has been bothered by pain in his right knee. How the Clippers handle the small forward spot against Houston will be worth keeping an eye on, especially if Barnes can’t go. Will rookie Reggie Bullock see his first meaningful minutes of the season? Will Willie Green play in a small lineup as he did in Orlando and Miami? Will Antawn Jamison play for the first time since the middle of the preseason?
2. Turnovers. At 15.7 turnovers per game, the Clippers are in the top half of the league in fewest miscues (11th). Unlike last season, though, when they were equally as frugal, their turnovers have been more untimely. They went from giving up 16.0 points off turnovers a year ago to 20.3 in six games in 2013-14 (fifth worst in the NBA). Paul blamed costly turnovers for helping the Heat take a commanding lead on Thursday. They committed 19 overall leading to 24 points for Miami. Paul said limiting Houston’s transition opportunities is paramount, even with Dwight Howard and Omer Asik in the starting lineup, because they are a high-volume 3-point shooting team on the break.
3. Halting Harden. The Rockets seem to be understandably still figuring out the dynamic between Howard and James Harden, who sat out Friday’s practice with a bruised left foot. According to the Houston Chronicle, he is listed as day-to-day.
The Clippers are more equipped with Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to matchup with Howard. They can even throw Byron Mullens and Ryan Hollins at him and still have a pair of 7-footers to combat his size. However, the options for slowing Harden, who scored 35 against the Lakers Thursday, are far less prevalent. According to Jordan, the big men will have to be prepared to help out when the crafty lefty saunters his way to the rim.
“Even if you’re vertical he goes in, sometimes [with the] ball, sometimes elbow, sometimes knee and so if you get hit in the chest or the stomach your natural reaction is to bend over,” Jordan said. “If I jump up vertically first, I feel like hopefully I’ll get the call. But if not, we’re definitely going to have to take some charges early in the game to make them think twice about driving.”
The Clippers are 6-1 in their last seven meetings with the Rockets, including Monday’s 19-point victory… Redick leads the NBA with a 9.3 points per game average in the first quarter. He had 15 in the first against Houston Monday… The Clippers rank first in the NBA in offensive efficiency and are last in defensive efficiency… The Rockets have attempted and made more free throws than their opponent in all six games this season…
LAST TIME OUT