Gameday Report: Clippers, Rockets set for final matchup of the season
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The Clippers (37-29) will travel to take on the Houston Rockets (53-14) on Thursday in the two teams’ fourth and final tilt of the season.
LA is 2-1 against the Rockets this season. The Clippers defeated the Rockets in Houston on Dec. 22, 128-118, and then beat the Rockets again on Jan. 15 at STAPLES Center, 113-102. Houston defeated LA in their last matchup on Feb. 28, 105-92, on the Clippers’ home floor.
Here are a few things to look out for in Thursday’s matchup:
Red-hot rivals –
No team has been better than Houston since the end of the last year, and only a few have been better than the Clippers.
Since Christmas, the Rockets are 28-8, the best record in the NBA over that span, and the Clippers are 24-10, tied for the fourth best record in the same span. The Clippers are second in the NBA in points per game (114.1) since Dec. 25 and the Rockets are fifth (112.3). LA is also second in field goal percentage (49 percent) in the same time frame.
Lastly, Houston is third in the NBA in net rating (8.3) since Christmas and the Clippers are sixth (4.4).
Simply put, these are two of the best teams in the NBA over the past two months and some change.
Something will have to give in Thursday’s matchup, considering LA has won five of its last six overall and 11 of its last 14 on the road, and Houston has won 19 of its last 20 overall and 12 straight on its home floor.
DeAndre’s dominance –
Clippers center DeAndre Jordan is playing his best basketball of the season when the Clippers need it most.
Over the last six games, Jordan is averaging 17.3 points and 19.0 rebounds per game, while shooting 63.2 percent from the field and 65.3 percent from the free throw line, well above his career average of 44.5 percent.
This season, Jordan is on pace to set or at least challenge several of his career-best averages. His 61.4 percent clip from the free throw line so far this season is a career-high, and he is currently averaging 15.3 rebounds per game, just above the career-best 15.0 he averaged in 2014-15.
Jordan is also averaging 12.2 points this season, not far from his career-best 12.7, recorded in each of the past two seasons.
On Tuesday, Jordan scored 29 points, grabbed 18 rebounds, and dished a season-high 5 assists in LA’s 112-106 win over Chicago. If the Clippers hope to knock off the league’s best team on Thursday, Jordan might need to produce a similar performance.
Thursday’s game will tip-off at 5 p.m. PDT.