After coming off of a last-second win secured by Ivica Zubac’s imposing interior defense, the Clippers saw themselves in Houston facing the same team that almost handed them a loss (until Zubac swatted it away). Like the last game, the Clippers were able to grab the 113-100 road victory, which extended their winning streak to four and got them one step closer to avoiding a spot in the play-in tournament.
The game started with constant feeds to Zubac down low, which wasn’t a surprise given his impressive performance against the same team. However, Christian Wood matched him and scored 12 of his own points in the first quarter to keep the game close, as his outside shooting skills opened up opportunities both in the paint and beyond the three-point line.
The Rockets continued to compete in the second quarter and, at one point, led the Clippers by seven points. The team as a whole shot only 28 percent in the second compared to 42 percent in the first, and defensive miscommunication gave up easy looks that the Rockets took advantage of. The Clippers failed to regain their lead by the end of the first half, but they cut the deficit to just one point due to defensive stops and good offensive possessions.
The momentum that typically powers their second half comebacks was absent this time, but Marcus Morris had the hot hand and scored nine of his 18 points in the third quarter to keep his team in the game. Reggie Jackson soon contributed on the offensive end, and with Zubac anchoring them on the defensive end, what was once a seven point deficit flipped into a 14 point lead for the Clippers before the final frame even started.
The fourth quarter was much of the same for the Clippers, who won their fourth straight with their 113-100 win in Houston. Their defensive intensity is what won this game, which they’ll need as they head home to face the Lakers on Thursday, March 3rd, with an opportunity to make it five straight wins.