Gameday Report: Clippers set for STAPLES rematch with Rockets
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The Clippers (32-27) and Houston Rockets (47-13) will face off on Wednesday at STAPLES Center. LA is 2-0 against Houston this season and is the only team to have defeated the Rockets twice.
Here’s what to look out for in Wednesday’s matchup:
More than playoff positioning is on the line –
Wednesday’s Clippers-Rockets matchup doesn’t figure to just be a regular February NBA game. It’s expected to represent much more, especially for Houston.
In their first matchup of the season on Dec. 22, the Clippers defeated the Rockets on Houston’s home floor, 128-118. In that game, guard Austin Rivers scored 36 points behind six three-pointers, and guard Lou Williams scored 32 off the bench behind seven threes. Center DeAndre Jordan also notched one of his most dominant double-doubles of the season, scoring 15 points and grabbing 20 rebounds.
However, the most impressive part of that victory was that LA did it as shorthanded as its been all season. While Houston was missing guard Chris Paul and center Clint Capela, the Clippers were without the services of forwards Blake Griffin, Danilo Gallinari and Wesley Johnson, as well as guards Milos Teodosic and Patrick Beverley.
In the teams’ second matchup on Jan. 15, each roster looked a little different. The Rockets were without guard James Harden, but Capela was back in the lineup. Still, the Rockets’ injury woes paled in comparison to LA’s, as the Clippers were missing Rivers, Gallinari, Jordan, Beverley and guard C.J. Williams.
Still, LA emerged victorious, 113-102, behind 29 points from Griffin and 31 from Lou Williams.
The Rockets will be looking to exact revenge on the Clippers come Wednesday, especially after the teams’ last affair, which got heated after the final buzzer. Paul is yet to beat his former team since joining Houston, and both teams are looking to improve their playoff standing.
Clippers still looking to get healthy –
It seems the Clippers players and coaches have become accustomed to being man-down this season.
And while it hasn’t stopped LA from being in the thick of the Western Conference playoff mix, it certainly hasn’t helped.
Gallinari has missed the Clippers’ last two games with a right hand contusion/sprain and guard Avery Bradley has missed the past three games with a sports hernia. Gallinari is day-to-day and Bradley is expected to be out for Wednesday’s game.
Despite their injury woes, the Clippers are 9-3 over their last 12 and 20-9 since they bested the Rockets in Houston. After Tuesday’s win in Denver, LA is in need of a big win against the NBA’s best team on Wednesday – regardless of who is able to take the floor – in order to keep pace in the West playoff race.
Wednesday’s game will tip-off at 7:30 p.m.