James Harden (No. 13) and Trevor Ariza of the Rockets celebrate their 100-98 victory over the Clippers as Chris Paul and Matt Barnes look on/Photo by Kelvin Kuo, Associated Press
– People are going to wonder if Blake Griffin’s return from a staph infection in his right elbow threw the team out of whack and that was why it committed 20 turnovers. Griffin had five of them, DeAndre Jordan four and Chris Paul and J.J. Redick three apiece. But if you watched the game, it really didn’t appear that way. Griffin’s five turnovers certainly had to do with rust, but coach Doc Rivers afterward said he didn’t think that Griffin affected the team’s rhythm, even if Griffin’s timing was off. Griffin’s high for turnovers this season is six in a 101-97 victory Dec. 29. He had five on four other occasions.
– Griffin made 4 of 10 shots from the field, scored 11 points with 11 rebounds and eight assists. He also had two steals and a block. Under the circumstances, that wasn’t too shabby at all. He said his elbow was sore at the end, but that was expected. Griffin also told reporters he has only 60 percent of his strength in his right triceps as a result of his down time.
– Jordan Hamilton had a good game off the bench, scoring eight points on 3 of 5 shooting – 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. But he sustained a high ankle sprain late in the third quarter and did not return. Hamilton’s second 10-day contract is up, and coach Rivers said after the game that he was going to more than likely sign Hamilton for the rest of the season.
– It’s somewhat amazing that the Rockets shot just 37.2 percent from the field – 23.3 percent (7 of 30) from 3-point range – and they still beat a Clippers team that shot 43.9 percent overall, 46.2 percent (12 of 26) from beyond the arc. All one has to do is look at what happened at the free-throw line for an explanation. Houston shot 36 free throws and made 29 for an 80.6 percent clip. The Clippers shot 24 and made just 14 (58.3 percent). DeAndre Jordan was just 1 of 8, and his season percentage is now 40.1.
– The Clippers had done a fine job holding down James Harden in three previous games. He had scored 16, nine and 21 points while shooting just 12 of 37 from the field (32.4 percent) – 3 of 20 (15 percent) from 3-point range. He scored 34 points in this one, making 7 of 16 from the field, 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. His aggressive play allowed him to go to the free-throw line 18 times and he made 17. Harden is averaging 26.9 points on the season, second in the league behind Russell Westbrook (27.5).