Clippers outscore Rockets 41-21 in second quarter to lead 65-56 at break

Blake Griffin

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

 

The Clippers trailed by 11 points at 35-24 after one quarter Wednesday night in Game 2 against the host Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. But the Clippers roared back to outscore the Rockets by 20 points (41-21) in the second quarter to take a 65-56 lead into the halftime break.

This, without Chris Paul, who remains out with a left hamstring strain.

Blake Griffin was unbelievably good. He scored 26 points on 11 of 14 shooting. He also grabbed five rebounds and doled out three assists.

DeAndre Jordan contributed 10 points even though he didn’t play much of the first quarter after getting two quick fouls. Lester Hudson came through with two big baskets and five points.

The Rockets, who got 16 points from Dwight Howard and 12 from James Harden in the half, continued their turnovers trend with 10. Harden, who had nine in Monday’s Game 1 loss to the Clippers, had five of those.

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Chris Paul to miss his second consecutive game with hamstring strain

Chris Paul

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

 

As soon as Clippers coach Doc Rivers walked into the interview room for the pregame news conference ahead of Game 2 at Toyota Center in Houston on Wednesday night, the question was posed: will Chris Paul play?

“No Chris tonight,” Rivers said.

Rivers said at the morning shootaround he doubted Paul, who is suffering from a strained left hamstring, would be able to go.

“I thought it, but then watching him, no,” Rivers said. “He’s not moving well, so …”

Rivers was asked about his level of concern.

“It concerns me, yeah,” he said. “But again, we have a couple of more days and we’ll see. He’s moving better today than he was, so that’s a good sign. But not good enough to play a basketball game.”

Rivers said the notion that it was easier to sit Paul again because his team won Game 1 on Monday – without Paul – was incorrect.

“No, if he can play, he would play,” Rivers said. “You’ve gotta win four.”

Paul shot free throws and did some work in a swimming pool Wednesday and said he felt good doing that. But he didn’t try to talk his coach into letting him play.

“Nah, he knew it,” Rivers said.

Game 3 is Friday at Staples Center.

“Yeah, yeah,” Rivers said, when asked if he believes Paul will play in this series. “I just don’t know when. I don’t know if I’m discouraged or encouraged about Game 3. But we’re just going to have to take it day by day.”

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Doc Rivers doubts Chris Paul will be able to play in Game 2 against the Rockets; Paul not sure, either

Chris Paul

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

Today is Chris Paul’s 30th birthday, so Clippers coach Doc Rivers used his knowledge of that when he was asked about an update on Paul at the Wednesday morning shootaround ahead of Game 2 against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center in Houston. Paul did not play in the Clippers’ 117-101 Game 1 victory because of a strained left hamstring sustained in Game 7 of the Clippers’ first-round series with the San Antonio Spurs.

“It’s his birthday, so that’s the update,” Rivers said.

But will he play?

“Yeah, we’re going to see,” Rivers said. “I pretty much doubt it, to be honest, just from talking to him. But we’ll see how he moves around and we’ll go from there.”

Paul, dressed in practice gear, was next. He seemed a bit more optimisitic about his chances of playing.

“Yeah, I’m going to see how I feel this morning here at walk-through and get with the training staff and we’ll see,” he said.

Paul was asked how difficult it is to make a decision to play or not to play. If it’s the wrong decision, as Rivers noted before Game 1, that could put Paul out for the series.

“It’s really tough,” Paul said, “especially with the way that I play, and it’s only one way I know how to play. And it’s one of those things where you don’t want to make it any worse than it already is.”

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 117-101 Game 1 victory over Houston

Blake Griffin

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

Blake Griffin took charge in the absence of point guard Chris Paul, who sat out Game 1 with a hamstring injury sustained in Game 7 of the Clippers’ first-round victory over San Antonio, won by the hobbled Paul with a last-second shot. Griffin had his second consecutive triple-double, going for 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists. Doesn’t get much better than that. Yes, he had five turnovers. Big deal. The man was the point forward out there and handled the ball a lot.

– Good job by J.J. Redick. He had zero points in the first half, missing all four of his field-goal attempts – three of those from the 3-point line. He scored 17 points in the second half, going 6 of 9 – 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

– Terrific game by Matt Barnes. He scored 20 points on 8 of 11 from the field – 3 of 6 from beyond the arc. He also had five rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocked shots. Other than that, he didn’t do a thing. He also got into some verbal sparring with Rockets fans. That’s never good, but you have just got to love the emotion with which he plays. Barnes also had a fine showing in Game 7 against the Spurs. If he stays on a roll, and Paul comes back healthy, the Clippers will likely have too many weapons for the Rockets.

– It was kind of interesting that on a night when Rockets fans were chanting “MVP, MVP,” when James Harden made a shot, Harden had nine turnovers. That’s an enormous amount for one game by a player of his stature. Harden did have 20 points, 12 assists and four steals. But some of that was negated by his inability to take care of the ball. Harden this week finished second to Golden State’s Steph Curry in the MVP voting.

– Griffin wasn’t the only player to pick up the slack in Paul’s absence. Jamal Crawford scored 18 points with five rebounds, four assists and two steals while handling the ball more than usual. He did have six turnovers. DeAndre Jordan had 10 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and four blocks. And Austin Rivers, son of Doc, started in Paul’s place and went for 17 points. He only had three assists, but he came up with four steals. This is what you call a team pulling together when it’s quarterback was not available to guide them.

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VIDEO: ICYMI: This is why the Clippers are currently playing in Houston

Just in case you didn’t get a chance to see Chris Paul’s game-winning shot in Game 7 of the Clippers’ 111-109 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the playoffs, here is your chance to see the heroics of a player in pain from a hamstring injury. If not for Paul, the Clippers may not be in Houston right now taking on the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals, where Monday the Clippers defeated the Rockets 117-101 in Game 1: Check it out:

 

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 102-96 victory over Spurs in Game 6 at AT&T

Blake Griffin

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

– There is a song in the 1958 movie “Damn Yankees” entitled “Heart.” The lyrics include the phrase, “You’ve gotta have heart …” After this victory, no one should ever question the heart of the Clippers. They stared elimination in the face, and won. A loss, and all the wolves would have been out, wondering why the Clippers are going in reverse instead of forward. There is still a Game 7 to be played Saturday, but whatever happens, this team’s heart should not be in question.

– Kudos to Chris Paul. He missed all seven of his shots in the first half and although he still ended up shooting just 7 of 21, he was a big reason why the Clippers emerged victorious in this one. He scored 19 points, doled out 15 assists and played a game-high 44 minutes.

– Then there was the play of Blake Griffin. His body-language spoke volumes. It was as if he was not going to let this team lose. He scored a game-high 26 points, pulled down 12 rebounds, doled out six assists and for good measure blocked four shots.

Matt Barnes played a role in holding Kawhi Leonard to just 12 points on 3 of 15 shooting. Leonard scored 32 points in the Spurs’ Game 3 100-73 rout of the Clippers in San Antonio, so if he gets going he can be deadly.

– The only bummer to this game was that Glen “Big Baby” Davis sustained a sprained ankle at the outset of the fourth quarter. The hustle Davis gives the Clippers will be missed if he can’t make it for Saturday’s Game 7.

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Chris Paul: team won’t take negative thinking about officials into Game 6

Chris Paul

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

 

By now everyone knows that coach Doc Rivers was fined $25,000 for blasting officials for a number of calls that went against the Clippers in their 111-107 Game 5 loss to the Spurs in their best-of-seven series Tuesday at Staples Center.

Chris Paul assured reporters at the Thursday morning shootaround ahead of Game 6 at AT&T Center in San Antonio that the players will not be taking any anger from that into this potential elimination game for the Clippers, who are down 3-2.

“Yeah, I said, I think after that game, you let it soak in that night and then yesterday (Wednesday), it was cool,” Paul said.

If the Clippers win this one, the deciding Game 7 will be Saturday at Staples Center.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 114-105 victory over Spurs in Game 4

Austin Rivers

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

 

– It was kind of ironic that coach Doc Rivers became a bit perturbed about being asked – once again – about the lack of a good bench at the pregame news conference at AT&T Center. Then his son, Austin, goes out and has the game of his life with 16 points on 7 of 8 shooting while also playing solid defense. He did all this in 17 absolutely terrific minutes.

– Both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin said that without the younger Rivers, the Clippers would not have won this game. They are probably right. Then again, Paul and Griffin both had monster games. Paul scored 34 points and shot 11 of 19 while doling out seven assists. Griffin scored 20 points and was a beast on the boards with 19 rebounds; he, too, had seven assists. So you could also say that if either one of those two has a mediocre game, the Clippers don’t win this one.

DeAndre Jordan didn’t score much in this one, going for six points. But he had 14 rebounds and four blocked shots that helped the Clippers, setting the tone for a stronger defensive effort than in Game 3, when the Clippers were destroyed by 27 points.

– Another key element to this win was J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford getting their shooting back on track. Redick had shot 10 of 32 in the first three games, but shot 6 of 12 in this one for 17 points. Crawford was 12 of 34 the first three games, and shot 6 of 13 for 15 points in this one. Again, the Clippers needed every bit of that.

– If you’re a Spurs fan, don’t blame Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard or Tony Parker for San Antonio’s loss. Duncan scored 22 points with 14 rebounds, Leonard had 26 points and seven rebounds. Parker scored 18 points. The other two starters – Tiago Splitter and Danny Green – shot a combined 0 of 11. Splitter was 0 of 5, Green 0 of 6. All of Green’s misses were from 3-point range. Ouch! Neither player went to the free-throw line, either.

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Clippers hold a 51-47 lead over San Antonio at halftime at AT&T Center

Chris Paul

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

 

If the Clippers were still bummed out about getting routed by 27 points in Game 3 on Friday, they didn’t show it in the first half in Game 4 on Sunday at AT&T Center in San Antonio.

Chris Paul and J.J. Redick scored 12 points apiece and the Clippers took a 51-47 lead into the halftime break.

Kawhi Leonard scored 11 for the Spurs and Tony Parker and Patty Mills 10 apiece.

The Spurs are up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 100-73 Game 3 loss to San Antonio Spurs

Jamal Crawford

Jamal Crawford/Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Clippers, NBA.com

 

– When Jamal Crawford is in a groove, he can be as deadly from the field as anyone. But after shooting 1 of 11 in this one, he is a combined 5 of 24 over the past two games – 1 of 10 from beyond the arc. This needs to change in a hurry, as in Game 4 Sunday.

– Another shooter, J.J. Redick, is also struggling. He is now shooting 31.2 percent from the field (10 of 32) in the series after going 2 of 7 in this massacre. The Clippers need Redick to be closer to the guy who had the best regular season of his nine-year career.

– To be clear, Crawford and Redick were not the only poor shooters in this loss. Blake Griffin was 6 of 15, Chris Paul 3 of 11. As a team, the Clippers shot 34.1 percent, 26.1 percent from 3-point range. Doc Rivers himself said the loss was more about his team’s “awful” offense than their defense that cost them the game. We should note, however, that the Spurs shot 52.6 percent from the field, so that was in play, too.

– We heard it a lot that the Clippers’ bench can’t stack up with San Antonio’s. Clippers reserves scored 30 points, but much of that was during garbage time. Crawford scored just five points before garbage time. The Spurs, on the other hand, got 15 big points, seven rebounds and four assists from Boris Diaw in 23 terrific minutes; six points from Patty Mills and nine from Marco Belinelli.

Matt Barnes has had a rather lousy series. He’s averaging 5.7 points and shooting 30 percent from the field. But at least in Game 2 – when he shot 1 of 10 – he had 10 rebounds. Barnes had zero rebounds in this game. Guarding Kawhi Leonard – or trying to – is killing the rest of his game.

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