Mar 4, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Caron Butler (5) takes a shot against the Houston Rockets in the second quarter at the Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-US PRESSWIRE
The LA Clippers bruised their way to a wild win over our Houston Rockets Sunday night, escaping Toyota Center with a thrilling 105-103 victory. The Rockets flew to heralded heights after putting together a six-game winning streak. They now find themselves on the cusp of Lottery Land after dropping their third straight.
Immediately after Kevin Martin destroyed what was left of his otherwise reputable performance by missing his eighth of nine shot attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime, I noticed the sting. There it was, after a two-year absence: a playoff-caliber loss. This smelled, sounded and soured like a playoff loss and it certainly stung like a playoff loss. Toyota Center churned some rare energy for the final seventeen minutes of this one, and fans nearly got their due. It's too bad a few boneheaded plays and the great Chris Paul had to step in and deflect the satisfaction.
Your recap awaits, after the jump:
Three Cheers For...
Luis Scola — Scola's devilishly good-looking face took a hit in his quest to tame Blake Griffin, but aside from a few monster dunks, Scola won the matchup. He turned in a double-double and held Griffin to 14 points on 14 shots. Scola forced Chris Paul to win this one on his own, but unfortunately Paul took Randy Foye and Mo Williams along for the ride and didn't lose a step.
Courtney Lee — Lee played one of his best games of the year on both ends, making five of six shots for thirteen points and holding Paul in check during key Clippers' chances. Lee's among the rare types that can shoot the three-ball and shut down the wing, so when you get both in bunches, it's a nice bonus. Kudos to a gutty performance.
Samuel Dalembert — Perhaps his best game of the season. Look at the frontcourt he faced, and look at the results. Seventeen points, twelve boards and three blocks. That's the most Houston could ask for.
Three Jeers For...
Patrick Patterson — Patterson never found a groove and looked more hesitant than usual on offense. He finished 1-4 from the field and lost a criminal number of potential rebounds to Reggie Evans.
Goran Dragic — The Dragon gave Houston nothing tonight, absolutely nothing. He finished 0-4 from the field in a matchup that demanded he show up. Instead, he shriveled.
Kevin Martin — He had to do A LOT on his own near the end of the game — let's not forget how little anyone aside from Lee contributed down the stretch. So, yes, the missed shots at the end doomed Los Rockets, but tell me: what is worse than a few tough looks that didn't fall? Three -- count 'em -- three lazy passes in crucial situations that resulted either in turnovers or near-turnovers. On a night where Martin turned into Houston's dynamite dime-disher, he couldn't make the easiest passes.
Terrence Williams Gets His Own Category
We saw extended Terrence Williams minutes for the first time since '77 (or somewhere close to that), but given how little he has played over the past few months, can we really gripe at his awful stat line? He finished 1-8 from the field and did a fairly horrible job spacing and running the offense, but let's revisit that statement: Terrence Williams was running the offense. That shouldn't happen at this point in the season (or ever), and for McHale to suddenly reach deep into his back pocket for no apparent reason against a team like the Clippers in a game Houston desperately needed to win... I think Terrence's missteps trace back to McHale's poor judgment.
Chris Paul Took Kyle Lowry to the Cleaners
We know this, but don't be alarmed: we also expected this. Lowry hasn't played well against Paul in the past and tonight was no different. Expect Kyle to come out firing in Boston against Rajon Rondo, who may or may not know what's about to hit him.
Stats of the Night
As you could expect, the stats were fairly even across the board. In fact, they were so evenly matched that not a single statistic stood out. Each team had similar fast break points, points in the paint, assists, shooting percentages and rebounds. This may be the most even/steven game you see played all season. The vast number of lead changes further prove that assertion.
Actually, here's one that just came to mind: The Rockets are now 6-2 in games decided by five points or less.
Adventures with Bill and Clyde
Tonight, Bill Worrell and Clyde Drexler discussed Reggie Evans' anatomy, labeled veteran Bobby Simmons as a rookie and said both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin 'get away with murder.' Leave Bill alone, but please, Fox Sports Houston, find a replacement for Clyde. Your ratings are in the toilet. We've heard enough. We really have.
Growing List of Luis Scola's Enemies
1) Kevin Love
2) Pulls that are gravitational
4) Blake Griffin
A Once-Funny Joke That Suddenly Turned Cruel
Kenyon Martin's mid-range game, for the price of five Chinese yuan.
Next Game: Tuesday night at Boston. Quite good timing for the Rockets' annual Beantown Beatdown. Now someone go find Von Wafer's agent.
Make Friends: Clips Nation
*Because it goes left.