Jan 12, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Jason Richardson (23) during the fourth quarter at the Wells Fargo Center. The Sixers defeated the Rockets 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
For the Houston Rockets, the phrase ‘I’m so glad to be home’ couldn’t come at a better time. The Rockets return home tonight to face the Los Angeles Clippers, after a three game road trip resulting in three straight losses. After a 107-100 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, Houston hopes to return to their winning ways at Toyota Center, as they have won seven of their last eight games at home.
The task won’t be easy though, as the Clippers hold the second-best record in the West, as well as possess a myriad of high-level players and potential for highlight plays. Appropriately nicknamed ‘Lob City’ for their tremendous leaping duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers play to the Rockets pace, averaging 101.7 points per game, while holding their opponents to 92.8 points per game, which ranks them 2nd in the NBA in point differential per game.
The Rockets come in on a team-wide shooting slump. Over the last three games, the team has shot an overall 26 for 92 (28.3 percent) from behind the three point line. James Harden, Jeremy Lin, and Chandler Parsons shot a combined 13 for 50 (26 percent) from behind the arc during that span.
“Every team goes through some adversity and we’re going through some a little bit right now,” coach Kevin McHale said. “We didn’t win. We’ve got to find a way to win.”
Free throw shooting and rebounding have also been problems. The Rockets shot 40-64 (62.5 percent) from the free throw line during the past three games, including a dismal 12-29 performance Friday night at Boston. Houston has also been outrebounded in all three games.
“We’re not rebounding the ball like we need to be and we’re not getting stops,” said Harden, whose 14 game streak of scoring at least 25 points was snapped Saturday night. “During that five-game winning streak we were getting stops and getting out in transition scoring the basketball. If we don’t get stops it slows us down and that’s key.”
The Rockets must get bench production tonight to win, as the Clippers bench rank second in the NBA in scoring, at 41 points per game. The Rockets may also catch a break tonight, if guard Chris Paul does not play. Paul was injured Saturday during a loss to the Orlando Magic and sat out Monday night’s game. He will be a game-time decision.
Jeremy Lin will also be a game-time decision, as he sprained his ankle yesterday in practice.