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.

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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.”

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Kevin McHale: Rockets were different team from Game 1 to Game 7

Los Angeles Clippers' Jamal Crawford covers his face as he walks down the court in the closing seconds of the second half in Game 7 of the NBA basketball Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets Sunday, May 17, 2015, in Houston. The Rockets won 113-100. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Jamal Crawford of the Clippers hides his face in the closing seconds of the Clippers’ 113-100 loss to the Houston Rockets in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Sunday at Toyota Center in Houston/Photo by David J. Phillip, Associated Press

 

Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale on Sunday evening was asked to talk about the difference between the Rockets team that lost Game 1 by 16 points at Toyota Center to the team that won Game 7 by a 113-100 count there over the Clippers in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals to move on to the conference finals against Golden State.

“Game 1 and Game 7 were two different teams completely,” he said. “The Game 1 team was really lethargic, walking around and we didn’t play with much pace and force.

“The Game 7 team you saw today was the way we played most of the year. With force, with aggression.”

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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 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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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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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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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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Jamal Crawford speaks in philosophical tones about his shooting struggles

Jamal Crawford

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

 

Jamal Crawford had a terrific Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs in their best-of-seven first-round Western Conference playoff series. He scored 17 points on 7 of 10 shooting – 3 of 4 from 3-point range. But he has shot a combined 5 of 24 the past two games – both Clippers losses – 1 of 10 from behind the 3-point line.

Crawford on Saturday was philosophical about his struggles as he spoke to reporters at the team hotel in downtown San Antonio near The Alamo.

“It happens,” Crawford said. “It really does. The shots I got, I hope I get those same shots tomorrow, honestly. They were good shots, they weren’t anything rushed or force, or anything – shots I make 90 percent of the time, in my mind.”

The Clippers and Spurs square off in Game 4 on Sunday at AT&T Center. San Antonio is up 2-1.

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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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