In the first three games of their series with the Houston Rockets, the L.A. Clippers have been doing everything they need to do to win games. By most accounts, the Clippers should be leading this series 3 to 0, but a lapse in concentration at the end of Game Two cost them a win.
You couldn’t even point to all-star guard Chris Paul being out of the first two games as a problem. Austin Rivers has stepped up in this series and played the best games of his career. It was just mental errors that cost them Game Two.
In Game Three L.A. came back in a big way, with Austin Rivers leading his team to a second half rout of the Rockets. They did it by shutting down Houston center Dwight Howard and forcing all star James Harden to make turnovers. Harden finished Game Three with five turnovers.
In game Four we expected Harden to be more aggressive. Before the series started everyone thought he would dominate the Clippers, but so far he hasn’t. That isn’t a big surprise. L.A. has been able to handle the Houston All Star all season.
Chris Paul said he would start Game Four, but Austin Rivers would get a lot of minutes as well.
Right now the Clippers have five offensive weapons they can rely on: Paul, Rivers, Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and Jamal Crawford. Plus, with DeAndre Jordan grabbing rebounds on both ends of the court, the Houston Rockets could be in for a long game today.
And that’s what happened in Sunday’s game. This was another big night for L.A. After their blowout win over the Houston Rockets on Friday most people expected Houston to come back in Game Four and play tougher with strong defense.
The first half looked like an evenly matched game, but the Clippers were playing good defense on James Harden, who was only able to score nine points in the first quarter. Harden would not score again until seven and a half minutes into the third quarter. He would go on to score 21 points in the game, but the Rockets needed Harden to score more than 12 in the second half to win.
They needed more from everyone on the team. Dwight Howard was barely present. He was benched early in the game after two quick fouls. He finished the game with seven points and six rebounds — and was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter after a second technical foul.
The Clippers dominated most of the game. The Rockets were seven points ahead for a while in the first quarter, but the Clippers came back steadily. The two teams traded the lead in the second quarter, but by half time L.A. was firmly in the lead. The score was so lopsided by the fourth quarter both teams were taking out their starters and letting their second teams finish the game.
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale went to the Hack-a-Jordan strategy early in the game, but it backfired on them. DeAndre Jordan missed most of his free throws, but he finished the night with 26 points, 14 of them from the stripe. He also had 17 rebounds, scoring a double-double in the game.
Blake Griffin finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds, Chris Paul had a double-double with 15 points and 12 assists. J.J. Redick had 18 points, Jamal Crawford had 13 and Austin Rivers played 24 minutes and scored 12.
Game 5 will be back in Houston on Tuesday. The question is: can the Rockets find it in themselves to extend their season? They are down 3 to 1 in this series. They looked completely dejected in the second half and after Sunday’s game.
Final score in Game Four was 128 to 95, Clippers.
(All photos by Claudia Gestro)
Claudia is of Peruvian and Italian descent, having been born in a small town, in the North of Peru, South America. She was raised by her grandmother from an early age, living in poverty until Claudia’s mother brought her to America. She landed in Miami, FL and started her new life, playing high school basketball and eventually becoming a United States citizen. Claudia completed her education at Florida International University with a BA in Broadcast Journalism and became a model to supplement her income. Since graduating from FIU Claudia has worked with many of the Spanish Language broadcasting companies, including Telemundo, Univision and most recently Spanish Language channels on SiriusXM satellite radio and PasTV Deportes in Venezuela.She encourages you to follow her on Twitter and Facebook. Her content appears here under a shared content agreement with her Spanish television clients.