Five Takeaways: Two Ejected As Losing Streak Reaches Five in Houston
HOUSTON – The Clippers (22-13) already entered the night shorthanded from injuries. They became even more shorthanded from ejections, eventually succumbing to their largest margin of defeat this year after crawling their way back in the middle quarters, allowing a season-high 140 points to the Rockets (25-9).
Here are five quick takeaways from the Clippers’ 140-116 loss.
1) Redick returns, Paul out – In New Orleans, Chris Paul returned to the lineup from a hamstring injury while J.J. Redick sat out. One game later in Houston, it was Paul sitting out again and Redick returning from his hamstring injury.
Head coach Doc Rivers said at shootaround before Friday’s game against the Rockets that they want to be cautious with Paul, who “didn’t reinjure it” but “did feel some fatigue.” Rivers said he could’ve played if it were a playoff game, but the Clippers want to take it slow. Redick scored eight points in 25 minutes in his return after missing two games with the sore left hamstring, and appeared to get out all right.
2) Both Rivers ejected in second quarter – Austin Rivers, who led the Clippers with nine points in the first quarter, wasn’t around for long. After missing a shot in the lane midway through the second quarter, Rivers was suddenly ejected for making contact with an official with 6:38 left in the quarter. He maintained his innocence afterward, saying he didn’t think he did anything wrong, and many teammates believed it didn’t warrant an ejection. But that was just the first.
Another 25 seconds later, and head coach Doc Rivers was tossed as well. That left the Clippers, who were already shorthanded at guard with Paul out, with Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford and Redick as the only guards remaining, as assistant coach Mike Woodson filled in as head coach the rest of the way.
3) Felton, Jordan keep it close with enormous quarter – Raymond Felton had six points and four assists at the half, then came out sizzling with 13 points in the first seven minutes of the third quarter alone to get the Clippers within 10 points of the Rockets.With a DeAndre Jordan and-1 finish, a block on Montrezl Harrell and a tip-in at the other end, Jordan got the Clippers’ deficit – which at one point in the second quarter sat at 25 – down to single digits for the first time since the first quarter.
In the third quarter alone, Felton poured in 18 points – the most in any quarter of his career – and Jordan added another 14. Felton finished with 26 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Jordan had 20 points and 13 boards.
4) Too much offense from Houston – The Clippers didn’t quit following their ejections and a 32-8 Houston run that extended from the first quarter to early in the second. But the Clippers exhausted copious amounts of energy in their comeback and eventually ran out of gas, with Houston running away with the game in the fourth.
The Rockets’ ability to spread the floor didn’t just manifest in 3-pointers, but it also hurt the Clippers in transition, an area they’ve been trying to fix defensively. Houston ended the night with 56 points in the paint, routinely ending fast-breaks on dunks, and when Alan Anderson, who had a season-high 10 points, brought the deficit down to six within the first minute of the fourth quarter, the Clippers wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the night.
5) Five’s a first – The loss brought the Clippers’ losing streak to five games. It’s the first time that’s happened during head coach Doc Rivers’ tenure with the team.
What’s Next? – The Clippers’ three-game trip ends New Years Eve in Oklahoma City.
Notes: The Rockets are honoring former players during their 50th anniversary season, and they made a tribute video for Clippers assistant coach Sam Cassell, who won his first two titles with the Rockets … As he does every year in honor of his late friend Tobi Oyedeji, who wore the No. 35, DeAndre Jordan brought out 35 kids from the Third Ward area in Houston to watch the game.