[February 27, 2014]LOS ANGELES -- Darren Collison
slowed James Harden, and that helped the Los Angeles Clippers ground the
Houston Rockets again.
Forward Blake Griffin scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds,
and the Clippers defeated the Rockets 101-93 Wednesday night before
a sellout crowd of 19,258 at Staples Center.
The Clippers (40-20) beat the Rockets for the third straight time
this season and made it five in a row over Houston in Los Angeles.
The Rockets (39-19) lost for only the second time in 12 games.
"I take a lot of pride in my defense, especially against a guy like
James Harden," said Collison, a guard who came off the bench to
score 17 of his 19 points in the second quarter. "(Harden is)
capable of going for 40 like he did last night. You can't stop him;
you just got to make it tough for him on every shot."
Collison, who also had five assists, shot 8-for-14, including
3-for-5 on 3-pointers. He stepped in for guard Jamal Crawford, who
exited in the first half with a strained left calf.
Harden, an All-Star guard, scored a season-high 43 points Tuesday
night in Houston's 129-103 rout of the Sacramento Kings. A day
later, he scored 18 points and committed six turnovers. Harden
missed 10 of his 16 shots from the field and five of his six 3-point
attempts. He managed just five points in the second half.
"If we're going to play Darren Collison and Chris (Paul), we are
really small, but we are really fast," Clippers coach Doc Rivers
said. "So we had to turn the game into a ball-pressure game with
those guys in. I thought what it did was shorten the (shot) clock
for (Houston). They were getting their stuff with 10 seconds left on
the clock as opposed to 18 seconds.
"Even with Dwight (Howard), when they got it to him, he had to try
to score quick. There wasn't enough time to do anything else, and I
thought that helped us."
Howard, who was booed each time he touched the ball, led the Rockets
with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Reserve forward Jordan Hamilton had
16 points, but forward Chandler Parson managed just seven points on
"I couldn't make a shot," Harden said. "As a team, we couldn't get
it going in general. The wings couldn't make a shot. Jordan was the
only one who could knock down a consistent shot. It's a tough night
for us. We just have to bounce back."
Twenty Houston turnovers resulted in 30 points for the Clippers,
compared to 13 Los Angeles miscues that led to 10 points for the
Center DeAndre Jordan contributed 13 points, 10 rebounds and four
blocks for the Pacific Division-leading Clippers. Paul, Los Angeles'
point guard, scored 14 points and handed out nine assists.
The Rockets took a 48-46 lead at the break despite 11 first-half
turnovers and 41.9 percent shooting (18 of 43). Although Los Angeles
committed just six miscues, it managed to hit just 35.8 percent (19
of 53) of its shots before halftime.
Overall, the Clippers shot 44.1 percent (41 of 93) compared to 44.2
percent for Houston (34 of 77).
After Hamilton's 3-point basket tied the score at 76 with 10:26 left
in the game, the Clippers took the lead for good on consecutive
3-pointers by Collison and forward Jared Dudley for an 82-76
Crawford left the game in the first half with a left calf strain and
did not return. Crawford shot 2-for-10 from the floor and scored
eight points in 16 minutes. He will be re-evaluated Thursday.
Crawford's injury could enhance the Clippers' pursuit of forward
Danny Granger, who received a buyout Wednesday from the Philadelphia
"Obviously, a guy with that talent, you want to look at. There's no
doubt about that," Rivers said before the game. "I don't think it's
really up to us. I think it's up to Danny."
The Clippers are believed to be front-runners for Granger since they
can offer him a starting position, particularly with guard J.J.
Redick out due to a bulging disk. Now with Crawford possibly being
on the shelf, the need for Granger could be greater.
Forward Glen Davis, who got a buyout from the Orlando Magic and
signed with the Clippers on Monday, made his debut with Los Angeles
late in the third quarter. Davis finished with two points, two
rebounds and two blocks in five minutes.
The clubs meet again March 29 in Houston.
NOTES: Houston won six of its past seven road games before
Wednesday's loss. The other blemish was a 102-99 loss in overtime to
the Golden State Warriors. ... The Rockets capped their five-game
West Coast swing against the Clippers. They went 3-2. Next is a
two-game homestand, Saturday against the Detroit Pistons and Tuesday
against the Miami Heat. ... Los Angeles visits the Phoenix Suns on