Rockets-Clippers Preview


The Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers have put on a clinic over the last two games.

While they've also had their way with Houston of late, the surging Rockets are enjoying their best stretch of the season.

With both teams looking to stay hot, Los Angeles tries to continue its recent success against the visiting Rockets on Wednesday night.

After winning 125-117 at Oklahoma City on Sunday, the Clippers (39-20) won 123-110 in New Orleans the next night. Jamal Crawford stayed hot with 24 points, Blake Griffin added 22 and Chris Paul scored 19 to go with 13 assists.

"Sometimes you can have a letdown," backup guard Darren Collison said. "I think it's a good sign of maturity that we were able to win a big game (Sunday) and come out here and win another one."

The Clippers, who shot 51.8 percent against the Thunder and Pelicans, went 16 of 28 from 3-point range Monday. They are 25-0 when making at least nine 3s.

"It's been great and it's just our ball movement," Paul said. "We're getting great looks and at times where playing at the right tempo, but we got to figure out how to keep putting it together."

Crawford has given Los Angeles a huge lift, posting 24.2 points per game over the last 19. Griffin is averaging 31.3 over a nine-game stretch and has scored at least 20 in 17 straight.

"When you play that unselfish with that many good players, a lot of good things are going to happen," coach Doc Rivers said.

Los Angeles now returns home, where it's gone 23-5 while compiling an NBA-best 111.4 points per game. The Clippers have taken eight of 10 from the Rockets, including five straight at home while averaging 112.2.

Los Angeles recorded its most points this season in a 137-118 home rout of Houston on Nov. 4. Paul had 23 points and matched a season best with 17 assists while Crawford scored 21.

The Clippers also won 107-94 in Houston on Nov. 9.

The Rockets (39-18) aren't likely to go down as easy if their recent efforts are any indication. Houston has won 10 of 11 while averaging 112.7 points, with its only loss coming 102-99 in overtime at Golden State on Thursday.

The Rockets just cruised to a one-sided 129-103 victory at Sacramento on Tuesday. James Harden finished with 43 points before resting the entire fourth quarter, going 11 of 20 from the floor - including 6 of 9 from 3-point range - and 15 of 16 from the foul line.

Houston took a 42-17 lead into the second quarter, shot a season best-tying 56.9 percent and outscored the Kings 27-16 in transition. The Rockets are now 17-0 in 2014 when scoring more than 99 points compared to 1-5 when they don't.

"These are the type of wins that we need, especially late in the season, to lock down and focus," said Harden, averaging 33.8 points while shooting 52.1 percent over the last five games.

Dwight Howard exited briefly after banging his right knee but returned to finish with 20 points and 11 boards.

"It still hurts. I'll just try to do whatever I can to prevent my knee from getting too stiff to where I can't play," said Howard, who hopes to start against the Clippers.

Harden has averaged just 13.5 points while shooting 32.3 percent versus Los Angeles this season.

The Clippers could get even stronger with Glen Davis likely to debut. Davis, who averaged 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 45 games with Orlando, signed Monday after the Magic bought out his contract.

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