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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Matt Barnes believes Clippers took Dwight Howard “out of the game mentally”

"Rockets Dwight Howard makes a hard foul on Clippers Blake Griffin during second half action at Staples Center Sunday, May 10, 2015. Clippers defeated the Rockets 128-95 to go up 3-1 in the series.  ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) "

“Rockets Dwight Howard makes a hard foul on Clippers Blake Griffin during second half action at Staples Center Sunday, May 10, 2015. Clippers defeated the Rockets 128-95 to go up 3-1 in the series. ( Photo by David Crane/Los Angeles Daily News ) “

The lack of touches bothered Dwight Howard. The physical play irked him, too. The frustration over an eventual double-digit playoff loss escalated enough to show something far from what his team expected from him as the NBA’s most athletic and dominant center.

He failed to produce on either end of the floor. He committed silly fouls. He then walked through the entrance tunnel in shame before the loss became official.

The Lakers, Kobe Bryant and their passionate fanbase remember these images well, Howard’s last game in a purple and gold uniform two years ago ending with an ejection well before the San Antonio Spurs swept the Lakers in a forgettable first-round series. Yet, nearly the same scene played out again for Howard wearing a Houston Rockets uniform as they suffered a 128-95 Game 4 loss of their Western Conference semifinals series to the Clippers on Sunday at Staples Center.

The Rockets pledged they would feature Howard more on offense in Game 4 after he only had three second-half field-goal attempts in a Game 3 loss. Instead, Howard recorded nearly as many fouls (six) as points (seven) and rebounds (six) as the Clippers took a 3-1 lead with a chance to close out the series in Houston on Tuesday and advance to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.

“We were able to take him out of the game mentally,” Clippers forward Matt Barnes boasted afterwards. “They need him on the floor to be able to win.”
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Chris Paul has interesting thought on perhaps making it to conference finals

Chris Paul

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

Chris Paul on Sunday night had an interesting response when asked what it means to the team to have a chance Tuesday to become the first team in franchise history to make it to the Western Conference semifinals.

The Clippers had just walloped the Houston Rockets 128-95 in Game 4 of the semifinals, giving the Clippers a 3-1 lead. A victory in Game 5 on Tuesday in Houston will do the trick.

“It means that us as a team have an opportunity to win on Tuesday,” he said. “Yeah, I mean, it’s about us, not about the Clippers’ franchise and all that. It’s about us in that locker room and we’ve just got to go out there and play.”

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Hack-a-DJ sends DeAndre Jordan to FT line 28 times in half, Clippers up 60-54

 

 

DeAndre Jordan

DeAndre Jordan/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

With Hack-a-DJ being used to disgusting proportions, the Clippers on Sunday took a 60-54 lead over the Houston Rockets into the halftime break of Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center.

Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan scored 12 points apiece in the half. Rockets coach Kevin McHale went to the Hack-a-DJ in the first quarter, with Jordan shooting 14 free throws, making seven. He shot 14 more in the second quarter, but made just three more to finish 10 of 28.

Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford scored eight points apiece and Austin Rivers had seven.

Trevor Ariza led Houston with 15 first-half points and Terrence Jones and James Harden each scored 10.

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Clippers’ Doc Rivers believes Chris Paul will nurse hamstring injury through rest of playoffs

"Clippers#3 Chris Paul drives around Rockets#1 Trevor Ariza in the first quarter. The Los Angeles Clippers played the Houston Rockets in the game 3 of the second round of the NBA iWestern Conference Playoffs. Los Angeles, CA 5/8/2015 (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)"

“Clippers#3 Chris Paul drives around Rockets#1 Trevor Ariza in the first quarter. The Los Angeles Clippers played the Houston Rockets in the game 3 of the second round of the NBA iWestern Conference Playoffs. Los Angeles, CA 5/8/2015 (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)”

A week has passed since Clippers guard Chris Paul strained his left hamstring, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers expects the injury will last much longer. Possibly until June, assuming the Clippers are still playing.

“You know it will be with him through the playoffs,” Rivers said before the Clippers hosted Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against Houston Rockets at Staples Center. “We’re going to have to monitor this throughout. It’s never going to go away. Once they start, it doesn’t go away. We have to feel careful.”

Paul will play in Game 4 after posting 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting and seven assists through 23 minutes in a Game 3 victory over Houston on Friday that gave the Clippers a 2-1 series lead. That happened after Paul sat in the first two games in Houston. Yet, Rivers said he and Clippers trainer Jason Powell have not concluded how they will handle his workload in Game 4.

“He’s more confident,” Rivers said of Paul. “That helps. I know he feels better than he did two days ago. That should help. I’m not sure if we are going to increase minutes or not yet.”

RELATED:
Rockets’ Dwight Howard sparks mild reaction from L.A. crowd in Game 3 loss
Clippers’ Chris Paul says he’s good to go for Game 4
Austin Rivers proving Doc did right thing bringing him to Clippers

Follow L.A. Daily News’ Mark Medina on Twitter and on Facebook. E-mail him at mark.medina@langnews.com

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