The Los Angeles Clippers are one win away from the Western Conference Finals, it is only a matter of time.
The Clippers had solid contributions up and down the bench as they had their way with a Rockets team that has been over-matched in every aspect of the game this series. Even the shooting guard match-up, which most would've given to James Harden to start the series, has been won by J.J. Redick.
Austin Rivers had another great night in relief of Chris Paul, sparking a run in the second that saw the Clippers erase a 7 point deficit. It is looking more and more like Rivers production is something we can count on going forward.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were solid, as always. Their pick and roll game in the third was nothing short of magical. The one downside of the blowout, Griffin's double-double streak ended as he only grabbed 8 rebounds, he did keep the 20 point scoring streak alive.
The game ball goes to DeAndre Jordan, who weathered a hacking that saw him take 34 free throw attempts. Jordan sunk 14 of those attempts which helped him to a team high 26 points, he also had 17 rebounds, 2 steals, a block and countless altered shots.
The Rockets started the game with the mix of motivation and desperation you would expect a team down 2-1 to have. They jumped out to an early lead but couldn't pull away from a cold-shooting LA squad. Dwight Howard picked up two quick fouls and was benched only a few minutes into the game. With their star center stuck waving a towel, the Rockets attempted to take the Clippers center out of the game by sending him to the line early and often. DJ ended up setting a NBA record with 28 free throw attempts in the first half.
Spencer Hawes made another appearance in the first quarter and was solid. He hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws. He also had a couple assists and a steal. He recent play is promising.
Ariza and Harden both had 10 points in the first quarter, Harden hit a big three to put the Rockets up 33-30 to end the frame. But that was only threat they made.
Down 7 with 9:59 remaining in the seconds, the duo of Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford scored 8 points in a flash, giving the Clippers the lead with 9:27 remaining. It was clear then that the Clips had this one in the bag. The Chome team went into the break with a 6-point lead.
The third quarter was a massacre. Everyone in a white uniform was scoring at will. Harden was noticeably bothered by his lack of trips to the line. Even the announcers commented on his lunging and flailing arms. When Harden isn't getting calls, his melodramatics can be comical to watch.
The Clippers lead continued to grow as JJ drained 3 after 3, he had 15 points in the third quarter. The Rockets players soon became bitter at the shellacking they were experiencing. Howard picked up his fifth foul throwing down Blake after a dunk attempt. He was ejected for a similar play in the fourth. He got the boot for picking up his second technical but he simultaneously picked up his sixth foul so he would've been gone either way. At that point, the game was over so he wasn't a loss to the Rockets.
The Clippers closed out the game with a line-up of Lester Hudson, Dahntay Jones, Hedo Turkoglu, Ekpe Udoh and Spencer Hawes. The fact that all five of those guys saw court time in the playoffs is stunning, let alone playing in the same line-up.
Unless there is some drastic change, the Clippers should wrap this series up pretty easily. The Rockets spirits appear to be crushed. The don't have many players with heart so they will most likely rollover in Houston on Tuesday. That said, there is no reason to show mercy. The Clippers should take this series in resounding fashion on Tuesday and put the remaining playoff teams on notice.