Despite having Blake Griffin for only six minutes, the Clippers on Saturday defeated the host Houston Rockets 118-107 at Toyota Center.
Griffin went out in the first quarter with back spasms. He did not return. Also, reserve Glen “Big Baby” Davis was sent to the locker room in the second quarter by coach Doc Rivers following a verbal confrontation between the two near the Clippers’ bench. He, too, did not return.
Chris Paul led the Clippers, who clinched a playoff berth, with 30 points, 12 assists, five rebounds and three steals and only one turnover in 39 minutes.
DeAndre Jordan contributed 20 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for Los Angeles. He did not have to face Rockets center Dwight Howard, out with a sore ankle.
Matt Barnes, who hit a big 3-point shot down the stretch for a 10-point lead, had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
James Harden led the Rockets (49-23) with 32 points and Chandler Parsons scored 28.
The Clippers (52-22) moved two games up on Houston in the Western Conference standings.
Next up, Monday at Minnesota.
Clippers forward Blake Griffin had back spasms in the first half of Saturday’s game at Houston and was deemed unlikely to return.
Also, Glen “Big Baby” Davis was sent to the locker room during the first half after some kind of verbal confrontation with coach Doc Rivers. Clippers broadcasters on Prime Ticket did not expect Davis to return, either.
The Clippers, who entered one game ahead of the Rockets in the Western Conference standings, led 61-58 at halftime.
Houston was without center Dwight Howard (ankle) and point guard Patrick Beverley (knee). Also out for the Clippers was reserve Danny Granger.
The Clippers entered play with the ability to clinch a playoff spot with either a victory over the Rockets or a loss by the Dallas Mavericks.
Just a quick look at how the two big fellas have fared for the Rockets and Clippers in their first three games – all won by the Clippers – ahead of Saturday’s game between the teams at Houston. Prime Ticket will televise at 5 p.m.
In the first game Nov. 4 at Staples Center, DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who won 137-118. Dwight Howard went for 13 and nine.
In the second game Nov. 9 at Houston, Jordan had 12 points and 18 rebounds for the Clippers, who won 107-94. Howard went for 21 and eight for the Rockets.
Then, Feb. 26, Jordan scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 10-93 Clippers’ victory at Staples Center. Howard had 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Jordan has the clear advantage in blocks with eight in the three games to four for Howard.
The third-place Clippers (51-22) are a game ahead of Houston in the Western Conference. The Clippers have nine games remaining, Houston 11.
It should be noted that Howard had recently missed three games with a sore left ankle. He has played in two consecutive games, but he told the Houston Chronicle after Thursday’s victory over Philadelphia that his ankle was sore.
– Thursday’s rally from down double digits in the fourth quarter was the third time the Clippers have done that to the Mavericks this season. Thursday’s final was 109-103. In the other two, Los Angeles emerged by scores of 119-112 and 129-127.
– Superstars like Chris Paul don’t stay down long. He missed all 12 of his field goal attempts in Wednesday’s surprising loss at New Orleans. On Thursday he was 9 of 18 overall, 4 of 8 from 3-point range for a game-high 31 points. Enough said on that.
– Any time a team shows the wherewithal the Clippers showed Thursday, that makes playoff opponents take notice. They know the Clippers have heart, and that can be worrisome to said opponent.
– DeAndre Jordan averages 2.38 blocks as of this writing. He had a rare no-block game against Dallas. But when you score 16 points and grab 15 rebounds, it’s all good. Man, Jordan has been a beast this year. He’s now averaging a league-best 13.7 rebounds.
– Other than Jamal Crawford, who had 14 points, the bench contributed very little. Then again, other than Crawford – who played 28 minutes – no one really played enough minutes to get into a rhythm. Jared Dudley and Danny Granger each played 10 minutes, but the other two players who saw time played a combined 11 minutes. The five starters played 40, 38, 38, 40 and 25 (Darren Collison) minutes.
Next up, Saturday at Houston.
The Clippers on Thursday rallied from an 11-point deficit to outscore the host Dallas Mavericks by 17 points down the stretch to come away with a 109-103 victory. It was a huge win for the Clippers for two reasons: they had just come off a rather stunning loss at New Orleans a night earlier, and Chris Paul scored 31 points after scoring just two at New Orleans and missing all 12 of his field goal attempts.
Paul made 9 of 18 from the field, 4 of 8 from 3-point range. The team made 11 of 26 3-point attempts for 42.3 percent.
Blake Griffin scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, DeAndre Jordan went for 16 points and 15 rebounds and Jamal Crawford had 14 points. Counting 12 points from Matt Barnes and 11 from Darren Collison, the Clippers had six players score in double figures.
Dirk Nowitzki had 21 points for Dallas (43-30), which is a half game behind Phoenix for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Each time had three players get technical fouls.
The Clippers (51-22) are third in the Western Conference behind front-running San Antonio and Oklahoma City.
Next stop on the five-game road trip is Houston on Saturday.
Guard Jamal Crawford on Wednesday moved up the ladder on the all-time list for 3-pointers during the Clippers’ 98-96 loss at New Orleans. With his seven 3-pointers, he moved into 11th place with 1,687, surpassing Steve Nash of the Lakers, who has 1,684.
The all-time leader is Ray Allen with 2,957.
Crawford also now has 151 3-pointers this season, breaking his own club record set last season.