PREGAME REPORT | FEBRUARY 13, 2013
Tipoff: 7:30 p.m. PST | Staples Center | Los Angeles, CA | Game Notes »
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LOS ANGELES – The Clippers must feel like strangers at Staples Center.
After being displaced from their home arena for more than two weeks because of the Grammy Awards ceremony, the Clippers (37-17) are finally back home Wednesday to take on the Houston Rockets.
Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford both said they couldn’t wait to be back in L.A. after the team defeated the Philadelphia 76ers Monday. That victory gave them a 4-4 record on the trip and came without Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler, who will both be game-time decisions against the Rockets (29-25) with sore lower backs.
“We salvaged the road trip as best we could,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “Hopefully, we’ll get Chauncey back here and Caron here as soon as possible.”
According to Yahoo’s Marc Spears, Rockets star James Harden, who tweaked his ankle Tuesday against Golden State, will not play Wednesday.
LAST TIME OUT
Clippers 107, 76ers 90: Fewer than two minutes into Monday night’s game at Wells Fargo Center, Sixers head coach Doug Collins called timeout with the Clippers up 6-0. It was a sign of things to come as the Clippers took a lead as large as 30 points in the second half, seizing the most impressive win of their eight-game road trip.
“We’ve been there before where we got off to a great lead at the beginning and then for whatever reason let up,” Crawford said. “We just wanted to continue the momentum we’ve had on this trip and end the trip the right way.”
Chris Paul went 9-for-11 with 21 points, 11 assists and five steals in 25 minutes. Crawford had 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting and Griffin added 20 points and nine rebounds. The Clippers shot a season-high 58.7% and had 11 dunks in the game. But no sequence summed up their domination at the rim more so than a two-second span where Griffin switched hands in mid-air to dunk on Spencer Hawes, drawing a foul as Hawes hooked his arm. Griffin missed the ensuing free throw, but DeAndre Jordan slipped inside his man for a put-pack dunk that gave the Clippers a 25-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Rockets 116, Warriors 107: Harden injured his ankle when he stepped on David Lee’s foot and tumbled to the floor. But the first-time All-Star played through the pain and scored a team-high 27 points for Houston on Tuesday on the first night of a California back-to-back. Chandler Parsons added 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the Rockets overcame an early deficit to lead by double-digits in the fourth quarter. They made 10 3-pointers against a Golden State team that allowed them to tie an NBA record a week ago with 25. The Warriors were led by Stephen Curry’s 27 points.
Chris Paul vs. Jeremy Lin. The point guards have yet to face each other. Paul and Lin were injured when the Clippers visited New York on their final day of the regular season last year and Paul was still recovering from a bruised right kneecap when the Clippers played beat Houston, 117-109, in January. If Harden is out, much of the burden will fall on Lin to create offense for his teammates and look for his own shot. The Rockets are 5-3 in the eight games, Lin has scored 20 points or more, but those have come alongside Harden.
As for Paul, he has bounced back from a forgettable game in Miami (three points in 18 minutes) to dominate the Knicks and Sixers. He has played a combined 54 minutes in those two games, scoring 46 points with 18 assists and nine steals. Wednesday will be Paul’s first home game since Jan. 19, when he limped through the Clippers’ win over the Wizards still ailing from the knee injury. He appears back to health now, though, which could bode poorly for Lin’s first experience against the six-time All-Star.
WATCH THE SCOREBOARD
High scoring abound. The Rockets are the top scoring team in the NBA, averaging 106.3 points per game. Moreover, they have scored 112 points a whopping 18 times, earning a 15-3 record when they do so. They tend to push the ball up the floor after made baskets and shoot early in the shot clock, which is why they lead the NBA in pace (number of possessions) at 98.7.
The Clippers are a middle of the road team in terms of pace (94.0), but have scored 100 or more points 30 times this season, including matching their season high with 117 against Houston in January. They have also topped 100 points in their last two games, both road wins.
Wednesday is the Clippers’ only matchup with Houston at Staples Center this season… The Clippers have won four in a row against the Rockets… The Clippers are 18-7 when Billups starts… Griffin has a double-double in four of his last seven games against Houston… The Rockets have scored 100 points or more in 10 straight games, going 7-3 in that run… Houston lost its only game previously that Harden missed… The Clippers are 28-2 when leading after the first quarter, tops in the NBA…
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