Clippers Try To Rebound At Home Vs. Houston
LOS ANGELES –
Room for error doesn’t exist when facing a Western Conference playoff hopeful.
The conference is completely stacked, and after falling to a Mavericks team the Clippers (42-24) had beaten twice previously this season, they now return home looking to bounce back Sunday against another team they’ve beaten twice this season in the Rockets (43-22).
“We can’t overlook anyone, take anyone lightly,” said Matt Barnes. “We’re fighting for playoff position this last month of the season, and every game matters.”
The parity in the conference is as extreme as Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has seen. That’s evidenced by the fact that four of the top five teams in the West just lost their last game.
Any game between two Western Conference playoff hopefuls can go either way. The fifth-place Clippers know they have to turn the page from Friday’s loss if they want to gain ground in the West against the fourth-place Rockets, who won the last matchup in Houston.
“It’s as hard as I’ve ever seen, and that’s from every coach I’ve talked to,” Rivers said. “It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s just what it is. There’s at least eight teams that literally came into the year with honest thoughts of winning a title, and they’re right.”
LAST TIME OUT
Mavericks 129, Clippers 99 – It was the worst loss of the season for the Clippers, who suffered their first 30-point loss of the year. The Clippers shot 50 percent and got 16 points and 18 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan, but the Mavs shot 60.7 percent, made 16 3-pointers and got 22 points from Chandler Parsons.
Jazz 109, Rockets 91 – It was the Rudy Gobert show, as the Jazz center scored 19 points, pulled down 22 rebounds and blocked four shots in the win. The Jazz held a Rockets team that’s always a danger from long range to just seven 3-pointers, handing Houston its second loss in a row.
J.J. Redick vs. James Harden – This hasn’t been an easy matchup for Harden. The MVP candidate averages 26.8 points per game, but he hasn’t scored more than 21 in any of his first three matchups against Redick and the Clippers. Meanwhile, Redick’s scored at least 15 points in all three matchups and has scored at least 17 points in each of his last six games overall.
TWO THINGS TO WATCH
Long Range – Whether or not the Rockets get going from deep will likely be the difference. Houston’s only in the middle of the pack when it comes to 3-point percentage, but the Rockets take more and make more 3-pointers than any team in the league. The Clippers limited what the Rockets did from deep in their two wins before Houston’s 17 3-pointers in the most recent matchup between the teams.
Griffin Back? The Clippers’ star forward hasn’t played since Feb. 6, but he’s ramped up workouts this week and is at least a possibility to return from his elbow surgery. The Clippers have gone 9-6 so far in his absence, but inserting him back into the lineup would be a huge boost.
DeAndre Jordan’s combined for 46 points and 39 rebounds in his last two games against his hometown Rockets … Dwight Howard (knee) reportedly isn’t expected to return for two more weeks … There’s no timetable on the return for Jamal Crawford (calf) … The Rockets shoot nearly six more 3-pointers per game than any team in the league … The Rockets and Clippers are both in the top five in the league in 3-pointers made per game … The Rockets get the third most points off turnovers and fast-break points per game in the league … However, the Rockets allow the third most points off turnovers, fifth most second-chance points and fourth-most fast-break points in the league … The Clippers are 2-1 against the Rockets this season … Sunday will mark the fourth and final regular-season matchup between the teams …