The Los Angeles Clippers evened up its season series with the Houston Rockets with a win in a game that was really never close. Thanks to double-double performances from Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, along with a big night from J.J. Redick, the Clippers rolled the Rockets 122-106 in Houston.
Los Angeles moves to 43-24 on the season and are now 21-12 on the road. The Rockets continue to play mediocre basketball and fall to 34-34 to barely keep pace at the bottom of the western conference playoff picture.
Redick's Big First Quarter
The Clippers owned this game from start to finish and came out early with a 20-12 run midway through the first. Redick, one of the best early-game scorers in the association, scored 14 of the Clippers first 20 points of the ball game. He buried four attempts from beyond the arc in the opening frame to lead L.A. to a 35-26 advantage after the first quarter.
James Harden had a strong opening as well, scoring 13 points on 4-8 shooting through the first 12 minutes. The Clippers made 14-23 shots for a 61 percent clip in the first quarter and would make 57 percent for the entirety of the match.
Seven Clippers finished in double-digits. Jordan scored 23 points and finished with 16 rebounds. Paul scored 15 points and had 16 assists, with half of those coming in the first quarter. The Clippers 122 points is the most points scored by Doc River's team since their 124-84 win over the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 22.
Redick finished the game with a team-high 25 points on 5-9 shooting from deep. He came up big for the Clippers down the stretch when Houston made a run, sinking a three and scoring seven points in the final quarter of action.
Rockets' Late Run Falls Shorts
Through the first 38 minutes of the game, the Clippers had everything going there way. The Rockets however made things interesting down the stretch on the strength of a 21-8 run. Houston cut the lead to 11 after a three-point make from Trevor Ariza that made it 109-98 with over five minutes left to play.
Despite outscoring Los Angeles 31-25 in the fourth, the Rockets weren't able to make stops down the stretch when it mattered most. The Rockets forced a Clippers miss with four minutes left in the game, but an offensive tip-out by Jordan gave the ball back to the Clippers and resulted in a made three-pointer by Redick that pushed the lead back up at 114-100. Houston was never able to cut the score to single-digits and was outscored 8-4 in the final three minutes.
Harden finished with 33 points on 11-23 shooting and was 5-10 from beyond the arc. He added eight assists, five rebounds and eight turnovers, including a costly cross court pass that sailed out of bounds in the final minutes that could have kept the momentum going the Rockets way.
Michael Beasley was huge for Houston off the bench. He scored 16 points on 5-11 shooting while adding eight boards. Ariza also finished with 16 points and six rebounds on an efficient 7-12 shooting night.
The Clippers were red hot out of the gate, which allowed them to grab the lead early on and never look back. But the Rockets continuous lack of defensive effort reared its ugly head again tonight.
"The intensity wasn’t there, we weren’t on our toes," Rockets' head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "We were on our heels to start. We didn’t come out with any force defensively."
Paul dismantled the Rockets defensive unit, getting to the rim at will and running the pick-and-roll to perfection. Anytime the Rockets would look to trap Paul at the top of the three-point arc with a double-team, Paul would work around and find the open man for an easy score. The Rockets struggled immensely with rotating on defense, allowing the Clippers to either get wide open three-point attempts or shots at the rim.
Jordan completely outplayed Rocket's star center Dwight Howard. Jordan scored a good portion of his points with dunks in transition and alley-oop finishes from Paul on plays that he flat out out hustled Howard on. Howard finished with just six points, seven rebounds and only four shot attempts in nearly 33 minutes on the court.
The Clippers continue their road trip with their third of five games on the road on Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies. Los Angeles is now 3-3 in its last six games. The Clippers squeaked by the Grizzlies 94-92 in their last go around on Nov. 9 thanks to six-straight point by Redick in the final 55 seconds to secure the victory.
Houston welcomes the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night looking to get back over .500. The Rockets won in the teams only meeting on Jan. 13, led by Harden who had 27 points with the help of four other teammates who scored in double-digits to take the 107-104 win in Houston.