|CLIPPERS COME BACK FROM 14-POINT DEFICIT, PAUL CLOSES DOOR ON ROCKETS |
- ERIC PATTEN @ericpatten
LOS ANGELES–Chris Paul was clearly tired of losing.
The hyper-competitive All-Star point guard put the Clippers on his back in the final minutes as the Clippers completed a comeback over the depleted Rockets to win 95-91 Saturday at Staples Center.
“C.P. [Paul] is great down the stretch and throughout the whole game,” said center DeAndre Jordan, who had six points and 11 rebounds in 28 minutes. “For those critical points in the game he’s always going to get us a bucket or make a huge play for us.”
The Rockets (24-21) were without injured starters Kyle Lowry, Chandler Parsons, and Kevin Martin due to injury as well as missing newly acquired center Marcus Camby, who remains unavailable until his trade from Portland is finalized.
Despite falling down by as many as 14 points in the first half, it was a much-needed win for the Clippers (25-18), who defeated the Houston for the third time this season. L.A. had lost three of the previous four games at home and has struggled in close games of late, losing five of their last seven.
Difference Maker: Chris Paul scored 12 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, all in the final 2:42. He nailed a 16-footer, a step-back jumper in the middle of the lane, a right-handed layup after crossing over defensive ace Courtney Lee, and six free throws. The only other Clipper to score during the stretch was shooting guard Randy Foye, who iced the game with two free throws after being fouled on a dunk attempt.
Turning Point: After toiling defensively for much of the game, the Clippers made three consecutive stops against the Rockets in the last three minutes of the fourth. With the Clippers down, 87-83, Paul tied up 6-foot-9 power forward Luis Scola, forcing a jump ball. He won the ensuing tip, getting the ball to Blake Griffin. It was one of two steals Paul nabbed late in the fourth quarter.
“Get up there as quick as possible,” said Paul, regarding his thought process prior to the jump ball. “If you check my record on jump balls I don’t lose too many of those.”
Stat Line of the Night: Paul. He finished with 23 points, five assists, three rebounds, and five steals, which matched a season high. He also shot 7-of-16 from the field and made all eight of his free throws.
More Stats: Randy Foye. The shooting guard closed the game in place of Mo Williams and played well defensively. He also chipped in 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting to go with four assists and five rebounds.
Goran Dragic. The Rockets point guard, starting in place of Lowry (bacterial infection), recorded a career-high 14 assists (11 in the first half) with six turnovers, two steals, and 11 points.
Courtney Lee. Known as much as defensive stopper as anything, Lee had a season-high 25 points, making 9-of-14 shots from the field and four out of his nine shots from beyond the arc.
Hot: Blake Griffin. Griffin was a major part of the offense early. He made seven of his first 10 shots and finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Griffin fouled out on a loose ball foul on Houston’s final possession.
Not: Luis Scola. The usually efficient Scola managed just 10 points on 14 shots, made two of his five free throws, and was out-jumped by Paul on a crucial jump ball late. He did secure a team-high 11 rebounds.
On the defensive energy in the final few minutes:
Randy Foye: “We played hard. Usually, in the last week or so if a team made a run at us in the end and went up five or six in two minutes, they’d probably end up winning by 10. But tonight we just locked in and played hard. That was our focus from the beginning, make or miss.”
On the team’s progress after Thursday’s loss:
Blake Griffin: “It’s not going to happen overnight. Just because we had a meeting doesn’t mean we’re going to come out and be a completely different team. I felt like there was progress made, but we still have to work on that and continue to expand as well.”
On Paul taking over the game:
Vinny Del Negro: “That is what star players in the league do. We tried to run some high pick and roll stuff and tried to space the court as much as possible. We got into the penalty which makes it harder to guard especially in the end.”
Kevin McHale: “He was definitely creating, getting to the free throw line and we really just didn’t have an answer for him getting out of that free throw line.”
Notes: Griffin has shot 69-of-121 (57%) in the last eight games, averaging 21.9 points… L.A.’s last two wins over the Rockets were by a combined six points… Rookie Courtney Fortson was recalled from the D-League by the Rockets prior to the game. He wore No. 9 with no name on the back of his jersey. Fortson played four games with the Clippers earlier this season… The Rockets had 25 assists on 35 made field goals… The Clippers outscored the Rockets 30-19 in the third quarter to get back in the game, capped by a 3-pointer by Mo Williams with three seconds to go… New Clipper Nick Young watched the game from behind the bench. He is not eligible to play until all parties involved in the three-team trade that brought him to Los Angeles have been cleared… Chauncey Billups made his first appearance at Staples Center since tearing his left Achilles tendon on Feb. 6. He sat next to assistant coach Robert Pack on the Clipper bench. “It’s great,” Griffin said of Billups’ being around the team. “He’s a big part of our team, even if he’s hurt and on the bench. We can still learn from him and use his wisdom and experience.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Back to Top