Notebook: Clippers 106, Clippers 96

Posted Feb 14, 2013 2:02 AM

Dan Arritt, for

THE FACTS: Turned out, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups were just fine. The two most veteran starters for L.A. took turns punching holes in the short-handed Rockets on Wednesday night. Butler and Billups, who missed Monday's victory in Philadelphia with sore lower backs and were questionable leading up to the Houston game, had something else in common, scoring 19 points apiece to lead the Clippers to their third straight win 106-96 at Staples Center.

THE STAT: The Clippers scored 46 points in the opening quarter, the most by any NBA team in any quarter this season. The point total also represented the most by the Clippers in a quarter since they scored a franchise-record 47 against the Spurs on March 7, 1986. The Clippers shot 77.3 percent in the opening 12 minutes, which was also a season high.

QUOTABLE: "Chauncey hit some great shots. He was hot early. Caron really got us off to a good start and did a good job defensively, which was good to see."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro

TURNING POINT: The hot start for the Clippers allowed them to take their foot off the gas in the second and Houston took advantage by cutting a 23-point deficit at the start of the quarter to 11 on a driving dunk by Chandler Parsons with 2:40 remaining in the half. The Clippers got back on their horse, however, and outscored the Rockets 11-2 down the stretch to push their lead back to 20. Houston didn't get back within 11 until its final basket of the game.

HOT: Playing in just his sixth game this season after two long stints on the injury list, Billups finished in double figures for the first time since he ruptured his Achilles tendon last February in Orlando. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul also turned in double-doubles for the Clippers. Griffin finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for his 22nd double-double of the season. Paul, in his fourth game back after missing the previous nine with a bruised right kneecap, had 10 points and 11 assists. The Rockets played without leading scorer James Harden, who tweaked his right ankle in Tuesday's victory at Golden State, so James Anderson took advantage of the extra minutes and scored a season-high 14 for Houston.

NOT: The player who started in place of Harden wasn't nearly as effective as Anderson. Carlos Delfino made his second start of the season but shot 1-for-6 from the floor with three points, his lowest-scoring game since shooting 1-for-6 and scoring two points Jan. 2 against New Orleans. L.A's bench had an unusually quiet night. Second in the league in bench scoring coming in, the Clippers were outscored by Houston's reserves 42-32. It marked just the 15th time L.A.'s bench has been outscored this season.

QUOTABLE II: "I just wasn't pleased with our second unit's energy. I don't think they had any sense of urgency guarding. We relied a lot on the starters and their energy."
--Vinny Del Negro

GOOD MOVE: The Clippers were able to rest their most senior member of the team, 18-year veteran Grant Hill, leaving him fresh for Thursday's clash against the Lakers. Hill has yet to score in double figures since making his season debut Jan. 12.

BAD MOVE: The Clippers made 19 of their first 24 field-goal attempts for a blistering 79.2 percent success rate, but shot just 18-for-51 the rest of the way (35.3). That allowed the Rockets to cut into the deficit just enough for L.A. to play its key starters during the fourth quarter. The Lakers, meanwhile, have been off their feet since Tuesday night.

NOTABLE: Houston rookie Donatas Motiejunas, a 7-foot center from Lithuania, scored 12 of his season-high 13 points in the fourth quarter. ... Houston's loss allowed the Lakers to creep within 2 ½ games of the eighth and final playoff spot, which is currently occupied by the Rockets. ... Houston has lost five straight against the Clippers. ... L.A. won its 25th game by 10 points or more this season, second only to the Thunder (27). ... The Rockets ended a 10-game streak with at least 100 points.

UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Thursday @ L.A. Lakers, Feb. 21 vs. San Antonio, Feb. 23 vs. Utah. For the Rockets, Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City, Feb. 22 @ Brooklyn, Feb. 23 @ Washington.