HOUSTON -- After closing the third quarter with a tip-in at the buzzer and opening the fourth with a three-point play, Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford drilled a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch of a 107-94 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday night at Toyota Center.
Crawford finished with 16 points off the bench and sank an open trey with 3:45 remaining to lift the Clippers (4-3) to a 95-85 lead. He complemented strong efforts from Clippers power forward Blake Griffin (22 points) and point guard Chris Paul (14 points and 13 assists).
Forward Chandler Parsons led the Rockets (4-3) with 23 points and eight rebounds while center Dwight Howard added 21 points and eight boards. Houston missed 10 free throws and shot 7-for-26 on 3-pointers.
The Clippers took advantage of another sluggish Houston start, grabbing an 18-8 lead before the Rockets went small to positive results.
With forward Omri Casspi replacing center Omer Asik, the Rockets' offense caught fire and closed the quarter with an 18-4 burst. Howard was integral to that rally with several rim assaults sandwiched around a Casspi 3. Howard produced 10 first-quarter points on 4-for-6 shooting.
The Rockets' eruption continued in the second quarter, this time with Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley providing the spark after an ugly 0-for-3 start. Beverley tallied nine points in the period and appeared to take his matchup with Paul personally, engaging in several feisty exchanges, something the Rockets lacked when Paul torched Houston last weekend during their matchup at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
But the Clippers returned the favor in the third quarter, closing the period with a 13-0 run to erase the Rockets' 71-60 lead. Momentum swung to the Clippers when Beverley picked up his fourth foul and exited moments after his midcourt steal resulted in a goaltending call on DeAndre Jordan and a 67-50 Houston lead with 7:50 left in the third.
NOTES: After initially expressing concern over his ability to play through a bothersome left foot bruise, Rockets G James Harden took his customary place in the starting lineup. ... The Clippers have struggled with consistency on offense, following a three-game winning streak in which they averaged 124.3 points per game with a 90-point outing in a loss to Orlando on Wednesday. When the Clippers are good offensively, they're brilliant. But is that proficiency sustainable? "I don't know if 130 is sustainable, so no would be the answer," Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. "But I do think this team has an ability to explode offensively, there's no doubt about that." ... Clippers F Jared Dudley continues to play through right knee tendinitis, but the situation isn't ideal. "He's good to go, he's just not healthy," Rivers said of Dudley.