Clippers cruise past Rockets
The Houston Rockets were down by double figures in the blink of an eye tonight facing the Los Angeles Clippers. Even though they had kept the deficit within reason all the way into the second half, they just never slowed down the Clippers, ultimately dropping their first game of the season, 137-118.
Chris Paul has been sensational to start this season and certainly was on Monday night with 23 points and 17 assists. Nine of his assists came in the first quarter, when the Clippers scored 42 points and built a 17 point lead. Houston was led by Omri Casspi's 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench in his return to the court after missing the game on Saturday in Utah with a sprained ankle.
The Rockets flirted with getting back in the game for what seemed like forever. The pared the deficit to nine points on five separate occasions in the second half, but all five times could get no closer. The Rockets were the last undefeated team in the western conference. Indiana is now the lone remaining undefeated team in the NBA.
Whistles and more whistles
Big trouble for the Rockets throughout the first half with fouls. Dwight Howard was hit with a pair of fouls before the game was six minutes old. He checked back in before the end of the first period and lasted less than a minute before he picked up his third foul. He didn't play over the final 13:23 of the first half.
Jeremy Lin was in similar trouble, he picked up four first-half fouls. Naturally that came on a night where Aaron Brooks had to go the locker room after twisting his ankle. Brooks would return.
Quality minutes for Smith
Just when it seemed like the game was about to get way out of hand for the Rockets in the second quarter, reserve center Greg Smith provided some productive minutes. In just over six minutes of action, Smith had a couple of put backs among his eight points and he grabbed six boards, too. It's too bad he was whistled for a cheap whistle that wiped out a great Chandler Parsons for what might have been the highlight of the night.
The game was over when...
Super sub Jamal Crawford missed a three pointer, but got his own rebound and drained a triple on his second try. Then Chris Paul hit a 3-pointer and on the next possession, Paul went lob city to DeAndre Jordan. That succession of Clippers buckets, pushed the lead to 19 at 127-108. Shortly thereafter, Rockets head coach Kevin McHale emptied the bench.
The bank is open
Dwight Howard must be singing some sweet tunes in his head because he opened the game making his free throws. He made his first four, the third make coming on a nice little bank shot off the window. It drew a wide grin from Howard and the fans, who had been letting him hear it all night, got in on the jeering. Howard would then miss five of his final six attempts in the game.
Next up the Rockets will travel to Portland for a 9:30 p.m. game on Tuesday night. Houston (3-1) has beaten Portland (2-1) in six of their last eight meetings, with both losses coming early last season in overtime.