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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Blake Griffin has 12 points in first half, but Clippers trail Rockets 56-46

The Houston Rockets on Sunday led by as many as 15 points in the first half before settling for a 56-46 lead over the Clippers at the break in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals at Toyota Center in Houston.

Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 12 points and Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford each scored 10. Interestingly, Paul had only one assist.

Dwight Howard and James Harden scored 12 points apiece for the Rockets and Josh Smith had nine points.

The Clippers are doing a much better job on the boards, outrebounding the Rockets 26-24. Houston outrebounded the Clippers by 19 in each of the past two games – both Rockets victories.

The winner will advance to the conference finals against Golden State.

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Five things to take from Clippers’ 119-107 loss to Rockets in Game 6

Clippers sit on the bench in the final minute of their 119-107 loss to the Rockets. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/L.A. Daily News)

Bummed out Clippers watch the end of Thursday night’s fiasco from the bench/Photo by Michael Owen Baker, Los Angeles Daily News

 

– Clippers fans have to ask themselves one question: How do the Clippers get past one of the most epic fold jobs in recent memory? Think about it. They led by 19 points with 3:04 left in the third quarter and their fans at Staples Center were in a frenzy. Then they were outscored 51-20 the rest of the way. How the heck does that happen? Just when we thought the Clippers’ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome might be a thing of the past, boom, it’s back.

James Harden, who has been under the weather, didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. He did check in with 1:01 to play in the game, but checked right back out without playing a second. But, man, Josh Smith and Corey Brewer more than picked up the slack. Brewer scored 15 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Smith scored 14 of his 19 in the fourth. Smith had three big 3-point baskets, each installing a nail in the Clippers’ coffin. As good as they were, the Clippers were that bad in defending them. Not that the Clippers played any defense at all in the final quarter, during which the Rockets shot 63.2 percent from the field – 63.6 (7 of 11) from beyond the arc.

– The Clippers’ two best players – Blake Griffin and Chris Paul – fell apart during crunch time. Griffin, in particular, was awful in the fourth. He missed all five of his shots and threw up a couple of bricks from short range that were head-scratching. Paul was just 2 of 7 in the fourth as the Clippers shot just 18.2 percent (4 of 22).

– The trio of Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford once again could not find the basket. Barnes shot 4 of 12 and Redick and Crawford were both 4 of 13. That’s a combined 12 of 38 (31.5 percent). This comes on the heels of them shooting a combined 6 of 30 (20 percent) in the Game 5 loss. If this doesn’t change, the Clippers stand little chance of winning Game 7.

– Crawford scored nine points to lead the reserves. As a whole, the bench scored just 16 points with Austin Rivers scoring five points on 2 of 8 from the field and Glen “Big Baby” Davis scoring just two. The Rockets got 37 points from three players – 19 from Brewer, 16 from Terrence Jones and two from Clint Capela.

– BONUS TAKE: The Clippers were outrebounded 60-41.

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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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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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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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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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