Rockets Dismantle Clippers, 98-81

USA TODAY Sports

No Harden? Houston? Problem. Clippers get punished in the paint and take the night off after a couple of heartbreaking losses elsewhere in Texas.

If you can watch this game let's say, three times and not feel painfully close to having an aneurysm, well, power to you.

Sure it didn't help me that I had to constantly hear Clyde Drexler chortle about how the Clippers weren't "all there" over and over again, but that wasn't the only thing that was terrible. The Clipper effort was terrible. A night after the role players to elevate the team when the two Clipper studs were having middling performances, tonight everyone had crappy performances. The defense gave the Rockets whatever they wanted around the rim as they outscored the Clippers 48-26 in the paint, while constantly missing rotations on the perimeter. The Rockets only led by 5 points after the first half before blowing the game open with a 30-13 third quarter. The Clippers had some success with the zone defense to start the 4th, but to be honest, the Rockets were missing quality looks from the perimeter that they were making earlier. The second half of tonight's game was easily one of the worst halves the Clippers have played all year. Blake Griffin continued looking disinterested, there were multiple air balled threes, and Chris Paul got 5 fouls, including 3 in a span of like 20 seconds. And yeah, James Harden didn't play tonight. So the Clippers were beaten by a batch of role players who are use to having everything start and end with Harden. Brilliant. The Rockets got contributions from their players across the board and deserve kudos for playing with much more urgency than the Clippers all night.

Still, it is just one game. It was also the fourth game in five nights, though the Rockets were also on the second night of a back-to-back. Maybe the Clippers were just too deflated from the Spurs loss to recover tonight. Nevertheless, this is a very costly loss, as Memphis won and the Clips have fallen one back in the loss column behind both the Griz and the Nuggets. For all the spurts of improvement we've seen this season, the Clippers right now are exactly where they were to start last postseason: on the road in Memphis. Hopefully the team can pull it together for this last stretch of games and at least grab that crucial homecourt advantage. Win #50 will have to wait, maybe Griffin can get back into gear against the Pacers, a team he set his career high in scoring against.

For the Rockets perspective, check out The Dream Shake.

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