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Clippers-Rockets preview: The Rubbermatch

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The Clippers face the Rockets for the third time this season and look to keep the series sweep intact - they also look to stay unbeaten against Texas teams in the month of February.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
2014/2015 NBA Regular Season
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vs
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37-20

38-18
February 25, 2015, 5:00 PM
Toyota Center
ESPN, WatchESPN, KFWB 980 AM, KWKW 1330 AM
Win-Loss Breakdown
13-11 East 16-5
24-9 West 22-13
23-8 Home 20-8
14-12 Road 18-10
15-16 .500+ 16-15
22-4 .500- 22-3
5-5 L10 6-4
Probable Starters
Chris Paul PG Patrick Beverley
J.J. Redick SG James Harden
Matt Barnes SF Trevor Ariza
Spencer Hawes PF Donatas Motiejunas Terrance Jones
DeAndre Jordan C Joey Dorsey
Advanced Stats
96.68 (12 of 30) Pace 99.12 (3rd of 30)
110.4 (1st of 30) ORtg 103.4 (13 of 30)
104.0 (18 of 30) DRtg 99.7 (3rd of 30)
Injuries/Other
Blake Griffin (elbow) out
Dwight Howard (knee) out

The Back Story (The Clippers lead the season series, 2-0):

Date Venue Final

11/28/14 Houston Clippers 102, Rockets 85 Recap Box
02/11/15 Los Angeles Clippers 110, Rockets 95 Recap Box
02/25/15 Houston Tonight

03/15/15 Los Angeles


The Big Picture: The Clippers are 4-2 without Blake Griffin, performing better than most expected they would without the perennial All-Star power forward. A major factory in the Clippers success is the emergence of DeAndre Jordan. He has been beasting as of late, including 24 points and 20 rebounds in a win against this Rockets team earlier this month. With Dwight Howard still out, DJ should be able to do the Uncle Chuck special and impose his will on the remaining Rockets front court. With a tough road match-up looming in ME/\PIS this Friday, the Clippers could use a win here.

The Antagonist: Similar to the Clippers, The Rockets are missing their All-Star big man, Dwight Howard. The Rockets have looked pretty solid without him, compiling a 15-8 record in games Howard has not played this season. The success is mainly due to James Harden's ascendence to Super Star status. The MVP vote is pretty much split between Harden and Steph Curry this year. That said, harden never seems to live up to this status when he faces the Clippers. Matt barnes and the revolving wings seem to have found his number over the past few seasons. Fingers crossed that trend continues.

The Subplots:

  • Comparison of key metrics. The Clippers are still tops in the league when it comes to offense. The Rockets are much lower than I thought they would be, coming in 13th out of 30. Even more surprising to me, the Rockets are actually ranked 3rd in defense. Surprising to no one, the Rockets and near tops in pace, once again coming in 3rd. The Clippers are nearing the bottom third of the league in defense while solidly mediocre in pace
  • The standings. The Clippers currently find themselves in sixth place; a win tonight and they would be withing a half a game out of third. Of course, in the extremely volatile Western Conference standings, things can flip in the blink of an eye.
  • Reinforcements, kinda. The Clippers signed D-leaguer, Jordan Hamilton, to a 10-day contract. He should be on the bench for tonight's game.
  • Ownage (knock on wood). Since 2012, the Clippers have dominated this matchup. They hold and 11-1 record against the Rockets including two wins this season. The Clippers seem to beat the Rockets even when they have no business doing so. Hopefully that will be the case tonight. The last time the Clippers lost the season series to the Rockets was the first year of the Chris Paul era. I don't know about you, but I'm hoping the Clips see these guys in the playoffs.
  • Clips Nation Night. Feel like playing ball on the STAPLES court with your fellow citizens? Check out the details for the March 4 game against the Blazers here.
  • Connections. Dwight, JJ, Hedo, Big Baby and Matt Barnes all played for the Magic. Jason Terry played for Doc in Boston. Jamal and Josh Smith were teammates on the Hawks. DJ is a Houston native. Trevor Ariza is a Los Angeles native. Both the Rockets and the Clippers used to be located in San Diego.
  • Wikipedia entry. Team Rocket (Japanese: ロケット団, Roketto-dan(?), literally "Rocket Gang" or "Rocket Brigade") is a crime syndicate in the Pokémon metaseries. Their main goal, as stated in the games, is to use Pokémon for profit and in plans for world domination. Most of their technology was acquired through illegal means, and they are known to have at one time have cloning technology in the anime.