Despite a valiant third quarter effort, the Los Angeles Clippers could not stage a comeback Wednesday after falling into a 27-point hole against the Houston Rockets. The Rockets picked up their 14th win in a row, beating the Clippers 105-92.
Here is how it went down.
The Clippers began the game with Austin Rivers, Milos Teodosic, C.J. Williams, Tobias Harris, and DeAndre Jordan.
Houston started off with Chris Paul, James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Trevor Ariza and Clint Capela.
The Clippers have had a number of slow starts this season, but the first quarter of this game was pure trash.
Offensively, the Clippers looked horrendous. The Clippers shot 23% from the field and turned over the ball 7 times. They lacked hustle and looked tired. Tuesday night’s late away game in Denver was surely a factor.
Defense was not much better. The Clippers gave up 34 points to Houston in the first frame. Rotations were slow, and James Harden was given too much leeway to wait ... and bait ... and execute whatever isolation move he wanted, including this one.
Oh me, oh my. Thank god Wesley Johnson does not use social media. That boy is getting roasted right now.
No surprise Harden had the hot hand for Houston. He was responsible for 12 of the Rockets’ first 16 points, and ended the quarter with 17 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.
At the end of one Los Angeles trailed 34-12. Yes, 12 points total. Tobias Harris led the way for the Clippers with 5 points.
The Clippers began the second quarter with Boban Marjanovic, Lou WIlliams, Teodosic, Montrezl Harrell and Johnson. In less than 50 seconds the Clippers had committed their 8th turnover and Houston’s had extended their lead to 27.
Then, Harrell decided he’d had enough. The energetic big single-handedly led the Clippers on a 10-2 run, starting off with crowd-pleasing back-to-back dunks.
The Clippers’ long balls also finally started hitting, The Clippers started off 1-12 from deep until Milos (2) and Harris (1) combined for 3 in a row.
The Clippers shot 70% in the quarter and outscored the Rockets 31-27.
Score at the break: 61-43 in Houston’s favor.
Stats and the Half
- 1st Quarter FGP: 23%
- 2nd Quarter FGP: 70%
- 3-Point FG: 4-15 (26%)
- Free Throws: 1-1
- Assists: 7
- Turnovers: 9
- Montrezl Harrell: 10 points, 1 rebound
- Milos Teodosic: 10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
- Tobias Harris: 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steals
- DeAndre Jordan: 2 points, 8 rebounds
- 1st Quarter FGP: 52%
- 2nd Quarter FGP: 40%
- 3-Point FG: 8-21 (38%)
- Free Throws: 11-12
- Assists: 13
- Turnovers: 4
- James Harden: 22 points on 6/10 shooting, 3 rebounds, 5 assists
- Clint Capela 12 points
- Eric Gordon 11 points
The beginning of the third quarter was much of the same for the Clippers. Then Sindarius Thornwell got the call off the bench from Doc Rivers at just under 8 minutes to go. Doc was desperate to beef up the Clippers lackadaisical defense and find a player combination that worked.
Thornwell was a welcomed spark. He was remarkably effective on Harden, as well as Paul, proactively pestering the pair and throwing off the Rockets’ offense. He also contributed offensively.
Behind Thornwell and Harrell - who continued to contribute on both ends of the floor - the Clippers would outscore the Rockets in the quarter 29 to 22 and whittle Houston’s lead to 8.
Unfortunately, that was as close as the Clippers would get. By the end of the third the Rockets’ lead was back up to 83-72.
In the fourth, the Clippers offense went cold. Spacing was off, and guys were stagnate. Comeback hopes circled the drain as Houston’s defense picked up again; effectively getting steals and stops.
The remainder of the game was pretty much basket-for-basket. Final score at the end of regulation: Clippers 92, Rockets 105.
With the victory, Houston secured their 14th in a row, and finished the month of February a perfect 12-0. Harden led the way for the Rockets with 25 points and 7 assists. Clint Capela and Eric Gordon also played well, contributing 22 points each. Capela also snatched 14 rebounds.
Final Clipper Stats
Final— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 1, 2018
- The Clippers need to sign Montreal Harrell stat. Not only has he been a monster off the bench, his competitive and positive energy is very much needed by this franchise.
- Harris had a solid game for the Clippers, quietly racking up 24 points. He took advantage of mismatches and played well on the block with Doc’s third quarter line-up.
- Thornwell was KEY in Clippers comeback effort in the second half. He actively and aggressively pestered Harden and was very effective in doing so. Although he played limited minutes, the usually prolific Harden was held to only 3 points in the second half.
- Rivers was a surprising (and disappointing) non-factor in this game. He got into foul trouble early and just never seemed to get started offensively.
- Marjanovic was – sadly - also a non-factor. After a fantastic showing Tuesday night, Boban made an appearance at the very end of the first quarter against Houston and picked up two quick fouls at the beginning of the second. Took a seat after that and did not return.
- Houston is not known as a defensive juggernaut. The franchise’s defensive rating is 106.8 (8th of 30). Nonetheless, they sure played like an elite defensive team tonight, getting stops, forcing turnovers and beating the Clippers to nearly every loose ball.
NEXT UP: Clippers face the New York Knicks at home March 2 at 7:30 p.m.