Well, this was a disappointment. A big disappointment. The final buzzer was the high point of the game. Basically, tonight was the worst case scenario for Los Angeles. A neverending nightmare. The Clippers were in full possession of the series (and the Rockets' heart) coming into tonight's Game 5 in Houston. All they had to do was execute for 48 minutes. However, cold shooting, foul trouble, and a lack of defense doomed their chances to take the series tonight. The Clippers got very little going in the paint, and their jumpers were not falling. The Rockets looked like the Clippers, and the Clippers looked like the Rockets. The action now shifts to Los Angeles on Thursday for Game 6. Let's hope the Rockets do not get a boost from this performance that carries over into the next game. The last thing that the Clippers need is for the Rockets to rediscover their confidence and believe that the series is a tossup.
Both teams struggled on offense in the early part of the game, and the Clippers were particularly putrid from the field. They got pretty much nothing from everyone not named Chris Paul (22 points on 9 of 16 shooting, 10 assists) or Blake Griffin (30 points, 16 rebounds). Their wings and guards were abysmal and ice cold: J.J. Redick (3 of 12), Jamal Crawford (2 of 10), Matt Barnes (1 of 8), Austin Rivers (3 of 10). The Rockets, who have not lost three games in a row all season, managed to find a groove and outscored the Clippers in all but one quarter. They got solid contributions from everyone, including previous no-shows Josh Smith and Corey Brewer. Coach Kevin McHale's desperate decision to insertinto the starting lineup for seems to have yielded some positive results for his club. The game looked particularly dicey from the moment picked up his second personal foul early in the first quarter. Without his bogeyman on the court, blossomed before our very eyes. He seemed to get into the paint at will, and his stepback jumper was working for him tonight. He finished with a triple double 23 points on 8 of 18 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists. also had a stellar game (20 points on 50% shooting,15 rebounds) and managed to avoid foul trouble.
The Rockets' lead ballooned to 20+ at various points in the third quarter, andtook a scary fall. However, the Clippers managed to go on a little run, and tried to take over the game this quarter. Thanks to a buzzer-beating putback by , they shaved one point off of the halftime deficit and went into the fourth quarter down 14. They cut it to 12 on a pair of free throws, but they could not seem to go on a sustained run. The fourth quarter was bogged down in a tit-for-tat hacking battle, but it seemed to make little difference. The game was out of reach almost at the beginning of the quarter. The Rockets finally put together a complete game.
The Clippers need to find the resolve that they showed at numerous points in the first round series against the. They need to end the series on Thursday.
The full recap for this game is forthcoming.