LOS ANGELES — The boo birds were out at STAPLES Center Wednesday night as the Clippers put up a lackluster performance against Western Conference rival Houston Rockets, finding themselves on the wrong end of a 122-103 beating. James Harden led Houston with 26 points and nine assists.
Houston dictated the pace from tipoff and got their production from beyond the arc. And boy did they produce. The Rockets finished 20-of-52 from beyond the arc.
Even beyond that, though, Houston dominated the other side of the floor, out-rebounding the Clippers 62-36 in the type of performance that should question the team’s direction.
“I thought they played harder,” head coach Doc Rivers said after the game. “They were the tougher team tonight. They were the more physical team tonight, which you don’t say a lot with them. They killed us on the glass. They made extra efforts.”
What’s frustrating for players, coaches, and fans alike is the Clippers’ recent results against the teams that stand in their way from getting over the proverbial hump in the postseason. Since the All-Star break, LA is 1-3, with losses to the Warriors, Spurs, and Rockets.
It’s understandable to lose against the top teams; it’s supposed to be competitive and those are the top 3 teams in the Western Conference.
What is troubling, though, is the average margin. The Clippers have been losing by over 12 points per game in the recent stretch.
“We knew we needed to take them off the three-point line,” Chris Paul noted after the loss. “We gave up too many threes tonight.”
Sometimes a change of scenery is all a team needs. The Clippers will look to bounce back on the road Saturday against Milwaukee.