Clippers: 3 takeaways from LA’s destruction of the Rockets
Thursday night’s matchup between the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers was decided early, with Houston trailing by as many as 30 points before eventually falling, 120-105.
There were several interesting takeaways from Thursday’s game. In this piece, we’ll highlight three of the hotter points of discussion.
Can’t buy one
The Rockets really struggled with shooting against the Clippers. In fact, Houston finished Thursday night’s game with a 36.1 percent mark from the field (35-of-97). Even worse, the Rockets went 7-of-42 from beyond the arc (16.7 percent). There were also a few air balls and missed layups in the second half.
Ordinarily, James Harden is an offensive powerhouse. In Thursday’s matchup, however, The Beard was off the mark. The former No. 3 overall pick logged 28 minutes, scoring 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists. Uncharacteristically, Harden missed all eight of his shot from behind the arc. And with the game out of reach, he was called to the bench for the fourth quarter.
During his post-game media availability, Harden lamented the fact that he and his teammates were unable to find an offensive rhythm:
“Offensively, we just didn’t have any rhythm,” Harden said, via ESPN. “They made us play in the half court, because we didn’t get any stops.”
According to ESPN, the Rockets ended their streak of 18 straight games with 10 or more 3-pointers, which dated back to Jan. 20.
The Rockets made an eyebrow-raising decision at this season’s trade deadline, sending Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks as part of a four-team, 12-player transaction.
This decision left the Rockets without a traditional center. At first, it seemed their new small-ball style of play would be enough to get by. In Thursday’s game against the Clippers, however, Houston’s lack of a true big man became an issue.
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t sugarcoat his assessment of Thursday’s loss, noting that his team “got its butt whipped.”
“It was just a whole barrel of bad stuff,” D’Antoni said, shaking his head. “We just got our butts whipped.”
Clippers taking shape
Prior to the start of this campaign, the Clippers acquired two of the NBA’s best players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. As a result, most experts instantly wrote the team in as a title contender.
Though their roster was packed with talent, injuries were a bit of an issue as the season got under way. Kawhi, who left the Raptors after leading the team to its first championship in franchise history, wasn’t quite ready for back-to-back sets. And George, who left Oklahoma City in favor of LA, was recovering from a pair of shoulder surgeries.
George is back in action now, and Leonard is continuing to show why he’s viewed as one of the best players in the league. Now, as the second half of this season plays on, it seems the Clippers are rounding into form nicely.
Leonard led the Clippers in scoring against the Rockets with 25 points, six rebounds and five assists. George added 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers respects Houston’s small-ball lineup, but he was happy to see his bigs playing well. Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac combined for 36 points and 22 rebounds.
“What they do is smart for what they do, it really is, but we couldn’t get caught in trying to play that way and I thought we didn’t,” Rivers said, via ESPN. “We stayed calm, moved the ball, found the open guy and our bigs were big.”
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) March 6, 2020
At 43-19 overall, the Clippers are currently holding the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference standings — just five games back from the Lakers. Let’s see if they can keep their momentum rolling into the postseason.
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