Five things to take from Clippers’ 119-107 loss to Rockets in Game 6

Clippers sit on the bench in the final minute of their 119-107 loss to the Rockets. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Bummed out Clippers watch the end of Thursday night’s fiasco from the bench/Photo by Michael Owen Baker, Los Angeles Daily News

 

– Clippers fans have to ask themselves one question: How do the Clippers get past one of the most epic fold jobs in recent memory? Think about it. They led by 19 points with 3:04 left in the third quarter and their fans at Staples Center were in a frenzy. Then they were outscored 51-20 the rest of the way. How the heck does that happen? Just when we thought the Clippers’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome might be a thing of the past, boom, it’s back.

James Harden, who has been under the weather, didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. He did check in with 1:01 to play in the game, but checked right back out without playing a second. But, man, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer more than picked up the slack. Brewer scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Smith scored 14 of his 19 in the fourth. Smith had three big 3-point baskets, each installing a nail in the Clippers’ coffin. As good as they were, the Clippers were that bad in defending them. Not that the Clippers played any defense at all in the final quarter, during which the Rockets shot 63.2 percent from the field – 63.6 (7 of 11) from beyond the arc.

– The Clippers’ two best players – Blake Griffin and Chris Paul – fell apart during crunch time. Griffin, in particular, was awful in the fourth. He missed all five of his shots and threw up a couple of bricks from short range that were head-scratching. Paul was just 2 of 7 in the fourth as the Clippers shot just 18.2 percent (4 of 22).

– The trio of Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford once again could not find the basket. Barnes shot 4 of 12 and Redick and Crawford were both 4 of 13. That’s a combined 12 of 38 (31.5 percent). This comes on the heels of them shooting a combined 6 of 30 (20 percent) in the Game 5 loss. If this doesn’t change, the Clippers stand little chance of winning Game 7.

– Crawford scored nine points to lead the reserves. As a whole, the bench scored just 16 points with Austin Rivers scoring five points on 2 of 8 from the field and Glen “Big Baby” Davis scoring just two. The Rockets got 37 points from three players – 19 from Brewer, 16 from Terrence Jones and two from Clint Capela.

– BONUS TAKE: The Clippers were outrebounded 60-41.

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Blake Griffin has 22 points in first half as Clippers lead Rockets 64-62

Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

Blake Griffin scored 22 points on 9 of 12 shooting to help the Clippers take a 64-62 lead over the Houston Rockets into halftime of Game 6 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Staples Center.

The Clippers led by as many as nine points in the first quarter. But behind James Harden the Rockets came roaring back to lead the Clippers by six in the second quarter before the Clippers answered.

Chris Paul contributed 10 points and seven assists in the half.

Harden led the Rockets with 21 points and Dwight Howard scored 11 and grabbed nine rebounds.

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‘Big Baby’ imparts wisdom from past experiences to current teammates

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets takes the ball by Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2015 in Houston, Texas.   The Rockets won 124-103. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin of the Clippers guards James Harden of the Rockets in Tuesday’s 124-103 Rockets victory in Game 5 at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by Scott Halleran, Getty Images

 

Glen “Big Baby” Davis was a rookie when coach Doc Rivers guided the Boston Celtics to the NBA title in 2008. Now, Davis is on the Rivers-coached Clippers team trying to advance to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

The Clippers lead their Western Conference semifinals series 3-2 over the Houston Rockets, but are coming off a 21-point loss in Game 5 at Houston.

Davis on Thursday at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 6 at Staples Center was asked if he imparts any wisdom from his past to his current teammates.

“Most definitely, in ways,” he said. “We have our leaders on this team and so me, I just try to pick and choose when I feel like the moment’s right to lead from my experiences. So I just go out there and do what I can with my actions and try to help my team as much as possible.”

Davis also talked about the difficulties of winning the proverbial closeout game, which the Clippers could not do Tuesday.

“The focus level has to go to a whole other level,” he said. “You know, attention to detail, energy. It’s a whole bunch of stuff that goes in a bag in order to finish a game, so we’ve gotta make sure we put those things in a bag in order to take this series.”

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Doc Rivers unhappy about his team’s play in the paint in Game 5 loss

 

Austin Rivers, left, and Blake Griffin appear down in the dumps as they are about to lose to the Houston Rockets in Game 5 on Tuesday in Houston/Photo by David J. Phillip, Associated Press

 

 

After the Clippers were routed 124-103 by the Houston Rockets in Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Toyota Center in Houston, it was pointed out to Clippers coach Doc Rivers that the Rockets, who took full advantage of DeAndre Jordan being in game-long foul trouble, outscored the Clippers 64-46 in the paint. With a frown, he intimated that didn’t tell the whole story.

“Yeah, it would have been 80 (points in the paint) if the game was closer,” he said. “The only reason it wasn’t worse is because it was a blowout and they just started shooting jump-shots.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 124-103 Game 5 loss to the Rockets

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets takes the ball by Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers during Game Five of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 12, 2015 in Houston, Texas.   The Rockets won 124-103. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin plays defense against James Harden of Houston in the Rockets’ 124-103 victory over the Clippers in Game 5 on Tuesday at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by Scott Halleran, Getty Images

 

– The Rockets played much better defense in this one. The Clippers’ shooting percentage of 41.8 percent bears that out. What really sticks out is that J.J. Redick (3 of 12), Matt Barnes (1 of 8) and Jamal Crawford (2 of 10) were a combined 6 of 30 from the field. That equates to 20 percent for those three. Moreover, they were a combined 3 of 17 from 3-point range, with Redick going 1-for-8. The Rockets, by the way, shot 54.1 percent.

– With DeAndre Jordan getting into early foul trouble – he had his third foul early in the second quarter and fourth midway through the third – he was only able to play just a little more than 24 minutes. That was part of the reason why the Rockets scored more than half of their points – 64 – in the paint. That played right into the hands of James Harden and Dwight Howard. Harden had a triple-double with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Howard scored 20 points and pulled down 15 rebounds.

– Speaking of rebounds, the Rockets blasted the Clippers on the boards, outrebounding them by a whopping 58-39 count. Besides Howard’s 15 and Harden’s 11, Josh Smith – who started at forward instead of Terrence Jones – had seven rebounds and Trevor Ariza pulled down eight. Blake Griffin had 16 for the Clippers and Jordan had 11, but no other player had more than five. That was Spencer Hawes.

– The reason the statistics are so much in favor of Houston is because, according to coach Doc Rivers, the Rockets played with a sense or urgency and the Clippers did not. Griffin, who had a good game with 30 points and those 16 rebounds, said his team played “like we had a couple of bullets in the chamber and we can’t do that.”

– With all this, there was actually a bit of good news. Chris Paul played 35 minutes and showed no signs that his left hamstring, which caused him to miss the first two games of this series, was bothering him. He scored 22 points on 9 of 16 shooting – 4 of 9 from 3-point range. He also doled out 10 assists.

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Food for thought: the Rockets have not lost three in a row all season

Live: Clippers in Houston for Game 5 of NBA West Semis

The Rockets’ Dwight Howard and the Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan tip off Game 4 at Staples Center/Photo by Mark J. Terrill, Associated Press

 

The Clippers entered Game 5 of their Western Conference semifinals series against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center in Houston having won the previous two games to take a 3-1 series lead.

Here is an interesting statistic that is food for thought: The Rockets have not lost three consecutive games all season.

 

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Chris Paul says his strained left hamstring is close to 100 percent

 

 

Chris Paul goes up for a shot in Game 4 with James Harden of the Rockets defending/Photo by Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

 

 

Chris Paul’s strained left hamstring is apparently getting better as each day passes. The Clippers’ point guard on Tuesday at the morning shootaround ahead of Game 5 at Toyota Center in Houston was asked about it, and he gave the injury positive reviews.

“Hamstring is OK,” said Paul, who missed the first two games of this Western Conference semifinals series before playing 23 and 26 minutes, respectively, the
past two. “It’s good. I’ll be on the court tonight.”

Paul was asked if the hamstring is close to 100 percent.

“Yeah, it’s getting there,” he said.

Coach Doc Rivers was queried as to whether he expects Paul could play more minutes in this one should the game be closer than the previous two, which were Clippers victories by 25 and 33 points.

“I haven’t talked about it yet,” Rivers said, when asked about a minutes restriction for Game 5. “My guess is, I’m sure there is some kind of limit, but probably he can play more than he played the first two games. He’s feeling a lot better.”

The Clippers lead the series 3-1. A victory in Game 5 would advance them to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

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Chris Paul, Clippers want to stay hungry, close out series in Game 5

Chris Paul

Chris Paul/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

The Clippers would love to close out their Western Conference semifinals series Tuesday when they play the Rockets in Game 5 at Toyota Center in Houston. The Clippers lead 3-1 and a victory would advance the Clippers to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.

Also, a victory would allow Paul and the rest of the team to get some rest before the conference finals begin.

“No question, no question,” said Paul, who played in Games 3 and 4 after missing the first two games with a strained left hamstring. “We’re thinking about it, too, as a close-out game. We’ve got to go there, be hungry. And, you know, in that situation we can’t give teams confidence.

“You can’t give them life. We know they’re going to come out ready to play Game 5, and we’ve got to stay the hungrier team.”

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James Harden dislikes Hack-a-DJ, but Chris Paul has no issue with it

DeAndre Jordan made 14 of 34 free throws in Sunday’s victory over the Houston Rockets/Staff photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News

 

There has been plenty of talk this season about whether the rule should be changed so the Hack-a-DJ strategy can’t be used. Rockets guard James Harden, for one, is not in
favor of the ploy that saw Clippers center DeAndre Jordan shoot 34 free throws in Sunday’s 128-95 victory over Houston in Game 4 at Staples Center.

“I mean, personally I don’t like it,” Harden said. “But I guess different coaches have their different philosophies on the game.”

Jordan shot 28 of his 34 free throws in the first half, which slowed down the game tremendously. There was a lot of standing around because of it, which is another element Harden doesn’t like.

“Yeah, it’s a little difficult,” he said. “That’s why at halftime you’ve got to get a good warm-up in. They jumped on us right … I think J.J. Redick had  two 3s coming out the third quarter, which gave them a 13-point lead and they took advantage of it from there. With this thing we’ve got to be alert at all times.

“We’ve got to know where guys are and know what’s going on in the game.”

The Clippers led just 60-54 at halftime and opened the third quarter on a 15-2 run to move to a 19-point lead at 75-56. Chris Paul had a 3-pointer during the onslaught, as did Redick.

Interestingly, Paul apparently does not think the Hack-a-DJ tactic should be abolished.

“I don’t know, it is what it is,” he said. “It’s part of the game. You know, people be talking about should they ban it, whatever. No, it’s part of the game.”

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