Notebook: Clippers 117, Rockets 109

Posted Jan 16, 2013 12:56 AM

Matt Miller, for

THE FACTS: For the second night in a row, the Los Angeles Clippers did not need their superstar point guard to roll to a comfortable road victory.

Jamal Crawford scored 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting as the Clippers improved to 2-0 with Chris Paul (right knee contusion) out of the lineup by roughing up the Houston Rockets 117-109 Tuesday at Toyota Center. Eric Bledsoe, the starting point guard in Paul's absence, finished with a season-high 19 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. Blake Griffin added 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, a season-best eight assists and four boards for Los Angeles (30-9), which has won five of its last six games overall and nine of 11 on the road.

James Harden led Houston (21-18), which is riding a season-worst four-game losing streak, with 23 points but made only eight of 20 shot attempts. Carlos Delfino netted 16 points off the bench, while Jeremy Lin chipped in with 12 points and 10 assists.

QUOTABLE: "It's never about me. It's always those guys who do the little things that people don't really notice."

-- Clipper guard Jamal Crawford on what allows him to quickly light up the scoreboard

THE STAT: The Rockets are not known for playing strong transition defense, but they have been especially poor in this area over their last five games. L.A. became Houston's fourth opponent in its last five contests to pour in at least 20 points off turnovers. The Rockets have allowed an average of 23.2 points off giveaways in this stretch, during which they have earned only one win.

TURNING POINT: Houston, which entered halftime holding a 59-58 lead, was flattened for coming out flat after the break. The Clippers took full advantage, roughing up the Rockets in the post with Griffin and capitalizing on Houston's offensive dysfunction with transition dunks, layups and 3-pointers. L.A. scored on 10 of its first 11 possessions in the third quarter as it went on a 25-6 run to build an 83-65 advantage.

QUOTABLE II: "This team really has been unbelievable as far as everybody being on the same page. From day one, it felt like we were together for at least a year."

-- Griffin on the Clippers' team chemistry

HOT: Bledsoe has delivered in the two games Paul has been sidelined, averaging 16.5 points on 52.4 percent (11-for-21) shooting, 5.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals. Bledsoe has scored in double figures in back-to-back contests for the first time since Dec. 8-9, 2012.

NOT: The Rockets turned the charity stripe into the misery stripe for the second time in three games. Houston connected on only 56.0 percent (14-for-25) of its free-throw attempts, marking the second time in three contests it has missed at least 11 shots at the line.

GOOD MOVE: The Clippers fed Griffin in the paint early and often, exploiting the mismatch he had against Rockets forwards Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris. In addition to drawing fouls, Griffin's dominance opened the court for his teammates to generate great looks and shoot a high percentage (53.8 percent overall, 57.9 percent from 3-point range).

BAD MOVE: Houston did not play like a desperate team that had just endured a winless road trip, as it allowed a short-handed squad playing on the second night of a back-to-back set to beat it in nearly every facet of the game. The Clippers' depth of talent cannot be ignored, but the young Rockets are lacking the urgency that is needed to compete with the top teams in this league.

QUOTABLE III: "They came out with much higher energy than we did. ... We just gave in, I thought, in the third quarter."

-- Rockets coach Kevin McHale on his team's third-period collapse

NOTABLE: L.A. coach Vinny Del Negro labeled Paul as a "game-time" decision for Thursday's tilt with the Minnesota Timberwolves. ... Clippers forward Grant Hill, who logged more than 16 minutes off the bench Tuesday, became the 20th active player to appear in at least 1,000 NBA games. ... With 30 victories in 39 games this season, L.A. has reached 30 wins faster than any other Clipper team in franchise history. ... Houston inserted Patterson into its starting lineup for the first time in 16 games. Patterson replaced Morris, who was coming off the bench at the beginning of the season before joining the starting five after Patterson suffered a right foot injury. ... The Clippers have won four consecutive games against the Rockets. ... L.A. improved to 11-1 this season when Crawford leads the team in scoring and 21-1 when Matt Barnes scores in double figures off the bench. ... The Clippers are now 10-0 on the road when they drain at least an equal percentage of field-goal attempts as their opponent. ... The Rockets fell to 7-14 against the Western Conference. ... Houston shot a lower percentage from the free-throw line (56.0 percent) than L.A. did from behind the arc (57.9 percent). ... Harden has scored at least 20 points in 21 consecutive games.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers: Thursday @ Minnesota, Saturday vs. Washington, Monday @ Golden State. For the Rockets: Wednesday @ Dallas, Friday @ Indiana, Saturday @ Minnesota.