Houston Rockets 118 Los Angeles Clippers 137
The Rockets didn’t have an answer defensively all night as the Clippers shot over 52 percent from over the field en route to sending Houston their first loss of the season. The Clippers scored a franchise record 78 first half points, and continued to cruise throughout the second half.
It looked inauspicious from the beginning for the Rockets, as Dwight Howard picked up his 3rd foul with 3 minutes left in the first quarter. James Harden scored just 4 points in the opening frame, allowing 42 points to the Clippers. But the Rockets were able to maintain the pace as they went for 41 points in the 2nd quarter, closing the gap to 78-66 at halftime, despite the Clippers shooting 60 percent from the field.
Chris Paul continued his stellar play to the start season, finishing with 23 points and 17 assists, while J.J. Redick lead all scorers with 26 points. Jamal Crawford added 21 points off the bench, and made 6 of 11 from behind the 3-point line. The Clippers also made 15 three-pointers, and the frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan were able to hold their own against Howard and Omer Asik.
Harden never seemed to get in rhythm, and finished with just 15 points on 6 of 17 shooting, including 0 for 7 from behind the 3-point line. Howard fell short of a double-double again with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin had 14 points apiece, with Lin dishing out 8 assists as well, and Omri Casspi returned to the lineup after missing Saturday’s game with an ankle injury, to score 19 points off the bench.
The Clippers lead 104-89 at the end of the 3rd quarter, but a quick 8-3 run to start the 4th quarter brought the Rockets within 10 again. Trailing 112-101 with as little as 7 and a half minutes remaining, Chandler Parsons missed a wide-open dunk, and Dwight Howard missed a point-blank turnaround layup on back-to-back possessions that lead to both a Jordan dunk and Paul layup, and pushed the Clipper lead back to 15. That’s when things got chippy. Francisco Garcia was called for a technical foul after Paul was called for hacking him from behind. After the whistle blew, Garcia gave Paul a shove and a stare as the referees came in to intervene.
The Rockets will host the Clippers on Saturday.