Five things to take from Clippers’ 113-100 Game 7 loss to the Rockets

Jamal Crawford brings the ball up court as the Rockets’ James Harden whoops it up during the third quarter of Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by James Nielsen, Houston Chronicle

 

 

– The first thing we take from this Game 7 loss is that had the Clippers taken care of business when they should have in Game 6 at Staples Center when they had the Rockets right where they wanted them with a 19-point lead late in the third quarter, there never would have been a Game 7. And the Clippers would be playing the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals instead of the Rockets. You snooze, you lose.

– The Trio of J.J. Redick, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes struggled shooting from the field for the third consecutive game – all Clippers losses. Redick scored 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, Barnes was scoreless on 0 of 2 and Crawford scored a hard 17 points on 6 of 18. They were a combined 5 of 19 from 3-point range. As a team, the Clippers shot just 25 percent (7 of 28) from beyond the arc, also their third poor performance from there in succession.

Doc Rivers bemoaned the turnovers, noting his Clippers were “a low-turnover” team all season. The Clippers had 18, the Rockets 17 total (16 player, 1 team). But the Clippers scored only 17 points off Rockets miscues, while the Rockets scored 27 off the Clippers’. Redick had six turnovers, Blake Griffin five and Chris Paul four.

– Other than Crawford’s 17 points – and again, they were not a good 17 points – the Clippers received virtually nothing from their bench. Austin Rivers and Glen “Big Baby” Davis each scored two points. That was it. Houston got 11 points from Corey Brewer, eight from Terrence Jones, four from Pablo Prigioni and two from Clint Capela. Moreover, Prigioni had four assists and three steals in 20 productive minutes.

– The Clippers did well to fight back in this game, pulling within three points in the third quarter and within eight twice late in the fourth. But Doc Rivers was not happy when Trevor Ariza hit a 3-pointer with just under a minute to play to increase his team’s lead to 11 and sealing the Clippers’ fate. Rivers was obviously dismayed when he called a timeout, looking at his players as if to say, “Why was he so open?” Rivers afterward said his team missed a lot of assignments. The Rockets shot 40 percent (12 of 30) from 3-point range.

BONUS TAKE: Rockets guard James Harden did not shoot well from the field, making 7 of 20. But his game-high 31 points included 18 trips to the free-throw line; he made 15. By the way, the Clippers shot just 17 free throws all game, the Rockets 41.

J.J. Redick says crushing Game 7 loss feels ‘like a wake or a funeral’

Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers congratulates Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets after the Rockets defeated the Clippers 113 to 100 during Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals at the Toyota Center for the 2015 NBA Playoffs on May 17, 2015 in Houston, Texas.   (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Blake Griffin of the Clippers shakes hands with the Rockets’ Dwight Howard following Houston’s 113-100 victory over the Clippers in Game 7/Photo by Scott Halleran, Getty Images

 

J.J. Redick wasn’t the only member of the Clippers to struggle in the last three games of the Western Conference semifinals won by the Houston Rockets on Sunday via a 113-100 count over the Clippers in Game 7 at Toyota Center in Houston.

Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes also struggled.

Redick on Sunday scored 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, 2 of 9 from 3-point range. He also had six of his team’s 18 turnovers.

Afterward, Redick described the mood.

“Still in shock,” he said. “Sadness. Disappointment. You never want to equate sports with death, but it does feel like a wake or a funeral.”

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.

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.

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.

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.