November 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets will look to avenge an embarrassing 137-118 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers suffered earlier in the week on Saturday night. Add that with a heart-breaking loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night on a game-winning three from Steve Blake and the Rockets should have plenty of motivation to bounce back into the win column. Here are a couple of keys to Saturday’s game.
There’s A D In Defense
The Rockets continue to struggle defensively. This is the same Clippers team who put up 78 points in the first half in their first matchup, so a commitment on the defensive end must be taken if the Rockets want any chance of a win. Chris Paul had his way offensively, finishing with 23 points and 17 assists, but will get a different look to begin the game as Patrick Beverley has returned from injury.
The Rockets also get a break as L.A. has not played nearly as efficient on the road as they do at home. Since Monday’s blow-out, the Clippers averaged just 94 points in 2 road losses against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat.
The 3-Point Line
The 3’s just have not been falling so far this season, and to make matters worse, the 3’s are what is killing the Rockets defensively. A season ago, they made the 2nd-most 3-pointers in a season in NBA history, but at the moment, they rank 20th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage(33 percent), and 13th in 3-pointers made(49).
Defensively, the Rockets give up the 3rd most 3-point makes per game at 9.7, the 3rd most total 3-point makes(58), and are allowing the 4th most 3-point makes per possession.
Late Game Execution
The Rockets didn’t execute on the offensive end at all as they let a win slip out of their hands against the Lakers. Much had to do with Dwight Howard’s missed free throws, as he missed 7 out of 12 attempts in the final 4 minutes of the game, while the Rockets as a team didn’t make a shot from the field during that stretch. Howard is shooting 47 percent from the free throw line so far this season, but the Clippers have a center of their own who’s a career 43 percent free throw shooter in DeAndre Jordan. Hack-a-Jordan may be in effect if the game is close in the finals minutes.