LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers jumped out to a huge early lead with their highest-scoring first quarter of the season, and they cruised to an easy 106-96 home win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Caron Butler scored 17 points in the first quarter as the Clippers piled 46 points on the Rockets, who were dazed almost out of the gate.
Los Angeles gained an eight-point lead less than five minutes into the game as the offense poured in from all over the court. The Clippers tallied six first-quarter 3-pointers and shot 17-for-22 (77.3 percent).
While Los Angeles cooled off drastically, shooting worse than 32 percent in the second quarter and 37.5 percent in the third, the damage had already been done, and Houston trailed by double figures for almost the entire game.
Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 20 points and added 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Butler and Chauncey Billups each had 19 for the Clippers, but Butler hit just one of his last six shots after going 7-for-9 -- including 3-for-3 from 3-point range -- in the first quarter. Chris Paul had 10 points and 11 assists for Los Angeles, and super-sub Jamal Crawford added 13 points off the bench.
Houston doomed its comeback by shooting just 5-for-24 from behind the 3-point arc, including a 2-for-12 showing by the team's starting lineup, which missed James Harden. The team's top scorer was out due to a sprained ankle. The Rockets had six players score in double figures, but no one had more than 17 points.
Chandler Parsons led the Rockets with 17, but he went 0-for-4 from 3-point range, 7-for-16 overall. Jeremy Lin added 14 points and seven assists. James Anderson had 14 points off the bench for Houston. Lithuanian rookie Donatas Motiejunas added 13 points after never scoring more than six in his previous 17 NBA games.
NOTES: Harden, whose 26.1 points per game rank fifth in the NBA, missed a game for just the second time this season. He also sat out a 134-126 home loss to San Antonio on Dec. 10. Lin scored 38 points that day in the loss. ... Billups (sore lower back) and Butler (sore lower back) were both considered game-time decisions but started. ... Toney Douglas (left hip pointer) missed the game for Houston. ... Los Angeles won the first matchup this season, 117-109, on Jan. 15. Crawford had 30 points in the win, which Paul missed because of a bruised kneecap. ... The Clippers' hot start Wednesday was nothing new for them against Houston. Los Angeles scored a season-high 41 first-quarter points in a 117-89 win over the Rockets last season on Jan. 4, 2012.