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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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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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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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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Five things to take from Clippers’ 124-99 Game 3 victory over the Rockets

Austin Rivers

Austin Rivers/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– First and foremost, I wonder how many haters out there still think Doc Rivers should not have brought his son Austin to the team in mid-January. Every time this 22-year-old has had a not-so-good showing, the Rivers duo has been ripped on Twitter. I’d like to see those same haters give credit where credit is due and tweet something positive. The younger Rivers had 25 points and shot 10 of 13 in this one. He was personally responsible for turning a close game into a rout. This is his third huge performance in 10 postseason games.

– The Clippers did a good job of holding James Harden to just five attempts from the free-throw line. That means they are playing good defense without fouling.
Harden was 15 of 15 from the free-throw line in Houston’s Game 2 victory.

Chris Paul did just fine in his first game of this series after missing the first two with a strained left hamstring. Though he hid it well, one could tell he is not 100 percent just yet. But he said Saturday at practice that he’s fine and ready to roll in Game 4 Sunday. He had 12 points and seven assists Friday in 23-plus restricted minutes.

– The forgotten man, Spencer Hawes, was called on in this game after Blake Griffin took two early fouls. Hawes, who now has played in only four of the 10 postseason games, hit his first and only shot attempt – an 18-footer. He also had three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 11-plus energetic minutes. “He played great,” Doc Rivers said. The Clippers may need to see more of Hawes, who, when he’s playing well can make a difference.

– With all the hoopla about Austin Rivers, let’s not forget how spectacular J.J. Redick was. Not only did he do a nice job of helping guard Harden, he scored a game-high 31 points. He made 11 of 14 from the field, 5 of 6 from 3-point range.

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Chris Paul has six points, six assists as Clippers lead Rockets 64-57 at half

Chris Paul

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

 

J.J. Redick scored 16 points and Blake Griffin had 13 and the Clippers took a 64-57 lead over the Houston Rockets into the halftime break of Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series at Staples Center.

Chris Paul, playing for the first time in the series – which is tied 1-1 – because of a strained left hamstring, played 16 minutes and scored six points while doing out six assists. He made 3 of 9 from the field.

Sixth-man Jamal Crawford had nine points.

Dwight Howard led Houston with 14 points in the half, Terrence Jones scored 12, Jason Terry 11 and James Harden 10.

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Chris Paul will start Game 3 against Rockets, minutes to be restricted

Chris Paul

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

 

Point guard Chris Paul will be in the starting lineup when the Clippers take the floor at Staples Center against the Houston Rockets on Friday night for Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinals series that is tied 1-1.

Paul did not play in the first two games because of a strained left hamstring.

“He is definitely playing,” coach Doc Rivers said during his pregame news conference. “Minutes-wise, we definitely are going to restrict his minutes. A lot of it will be visually, but we will restrict his minutes, for sure.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 115-109 Game 2 loss to the Rockets

Blake Griffin

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

 

– Remember Game 1 when the Rockets held a 13-point lead in the second quarter and the Clippers came back and got them? Well, the Clippers held a 13-point lead early in the third quarter of this one, and the Rockets came back and got them. It just goes to show how quickly the momentum can change. That’s why staying focused on the task at hand 100 percent of the time is so darn important. Think about it. The Clippers outscored the Rockets 41-21 in the second quarter and once they took that 13-point lead, they appeared almost a cinch to come back to L.A. up 2-0 in the series. They had all the momentum, the Rockets appeared bewildered and their fans were really bummed out. Poof, just like magic, the Rockets started to roll.

Jamal Crawford had his fourth poor shooting night in nine playoff games. He made just 6 of 22 from the field, 1 of 8 from 3-point range. He is now shooting 37.3 percent in the postseason, just 21.7 percent (10 of 46) from 3-point range. He has to be better. He did have five rebounds and five assists to go with his 19 points.

– The Clippers were whistled for 40 personal fouls to 27 for Houston. The Rockets were 42 of 64 (65.6 percent) from the free-throw line, the Clippers 25 of 32 (78.1 percent). Doc Rivers did not blast the officials afterward, but he jokingly said, “They shot 117 free throws tonight.” Some of them were because of intentional fouls.

Blake Griffin scored 26 points in the first half on 11 of 14 shooting and appeared on his way to 40 points or more. But he was just 2 of 9 in the second half for eight points and a total of 34. Sure, Griffin still had a solid game. The Rockets made some adjustments, the Clippers kept going to Griffin and the results were not good.

– If the Clippers had won this game to take a 2-0 series lead, we might have been saying the Clippers could afford to set Chris Paul one more game to make sure he’s good for the next round. But if he’s close to 100 percent, he needs to play because the Clippers needs him – plain and simple. And he will because he has plenty of heart. This was a season-saving victory for the Rockets. And if they steal one at Staples Center, they’ll have back their homecourt advantage and that could be dangerous.

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