PREGAME REPORT | JANUARY 15, 2013

 



Tip-off: 5:00 p.m. PST | Toyota Center | Houston, TX | Game Notes »

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RAFAEL GUERRERO

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A night after the Clippers scored a big win at Memphis without superstar point guard Chris Paul, the team will play their third game in four nights Tuesday as they take on the struggling Houston Rockets.

The victory in Memphis kept the Clippers (29-9) within one game of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the best record in the NBA and the top spot in the Western Conference. It was also the first time this season that the team alternated wins and losses, avoiding a two-game losing streak.

The Rockets (21-17) come into Tuesday night’s game looking to put an end to their three-game losing streak. They are the top scoring team in the league, averaging 105.4 points per game. But during their current three-game skid, the Rockets have averaged 90.0 points per game, including scoring a season-low 79 points in a loss at New Orleans on Jan. 9.

Point guard Jeremy Lin reportedly sprained his ankle at practice Monday, but according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Lin will play against the Clippers.

Paul, who missed the Memphis game with a bruised right kneecap, is a game-time decision.

LAST TIME OUT

Clippers 99, Grizzlies 73: Four players scored in double figures, led by 16 points each from Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes off the bench as the Clippers secured a crucial road win in Memphis without Paul.

The Clippers were excellent defensively as they held the Grizzlies to 30.3% shooting and held them under 20 points in the first three quarters. The Clippers were also stellar at the charity stripe, going 24-of-32 at the line one game after they took just six free throws as a team.

“We were just active,” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said. “I thought we got a nice lead at halftime and were able to control the game in the third quarter. Then, we held them off in the fourth. It was solid a team effort and a good performance from a lot guys.”

76ers 107, Rockets 100: James Harden scored 29 points on 10-of-19 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds but the Rockets dropped their third consecutive game. Chandler Parsons added 23 points and Carlos Delfino scored 16 points in 27 minutes off the bench, but the Rockets defense had no answer for 76ers point guard Jrue Holiday who finished with a game-high 30 points.

The Rockets trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter but they managed to cut the deficit to 96-93 in the fourth quarter thanks to Harden, who scored six straight points including a beautiful play in transition where he put the ball around his back and through his legs before finishing a layup. The 76ers killed the rally, though, and put the game away with an 8-1 run.

NOTEWORTHY MATCHUP

James Harden vs. The Clippers Defense. James Harden has had no issues adjusting to life as a starter and go-to guy. The fourth-year guard is scoring 26.5 points a game, good for fourth in the NBA and third in the Western Conference. He also leads the league in free throw attempts and has scored at least 25 points in the Rockets last three losses.

The Clippers guards are coming off a game where they held the Grizzlies’ backcourt to a combined 22 points on 8-for-29 shooting, including a five-point night from Mike Conley who went 2-for-11 from the field. Matt Barnes and Eric Bledsoe will likely draw the majority of the minutes against Harden. They each nabbed two steals against Memphis.

TWO THINGS TO WATCH

Bledsoe. Should Paul be unable to go against Houston, Bledsoe will get his second straight start at the point and, if the Memphis game is any indication, the Clippers should be just fine. Bledsoe scored 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting in 28 minutes and dished out four assists. He also did an excellent job guarding Conley, keeping him in check offensively and forcing three turnovers from the Grizzlies floor general.

Bledsoe will also be a key component on defense against the Rockets as he will be one of the men in charge of keeping the backcourt of Harden and Lin in check. Despite missing 11 of his 13 shot attempts against Philadelphia, Lin did score 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting the last time the Rockets played in Houston, a 125-112 victory over the Lakers on Jan. 8.

The Scoreboard. Although the Rockets are the top-ranked scoring team in the league, the Clippers are not far behind as they average 101.8 points a game, good for seventh in the NBA. The Clippers are also fourth in the league in field goal percentage, hitting 47.7% of their shots, led by DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin who are shooting 60.2% and 53.4%, respectively.

Keeping the pace down will likely be key for the Clippers to win, but it is a lot easier said than done in Houston where the Rockets have scored more than 120 points six times at home this season, going 5-1 in those games.

NOTES

The Clippers swept the three-game season series between the two teams last season, including a 105-103 overtime win at Houston on March 4… Harden and Parsons combined to miss 13 of 16 3-point shots in the loss at Philadelphia. The Rockets are just 26-for-93 from beyond the arc during their three-game losing streak... The Clippers are 23-2 when leading an opponent after the first quarter… They are also 22-6 when their bench outscored the other team’s reserves. 

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CHRIS PAUL BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAY
When: January 22 vs. Oklahoma City
The first 18,000 fans in attendance will receive a Chris Paul Bobblehead courtesy of State Farm