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Rockets Ground Lob City With Big Third Quarter

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No James Harden? No Problem. The Rockets burn the Clippers in Houston for 40th victory.

USA TODAY Sports

Before the opening tip the Rockets were staring down a troubling match-up against the League Pass darling Lob City Clippers. There were several pre-game causes for concern:

  • James Harden's right foot sidelined him for tonight's game, the second he's missed against the Clippers.
  • Greg Smith got his first career start replacing master of early fouls, Donatas Motiejunas.
  • James Anderson slid into the starting lineup for Harden.
  • The Clippers had a green light across the board. Even Grant Hill is in uniform.
The Rockets surprised the Clippers with a strong first half anchored by the new starting five (Lin, Anderson, Parsons, Smith, Asik) and strong contributions from Patrick Beverley and Francisco Garcia.

The wheels came off in the third quarter for the Clippers. The Rockets outscored Lob City 30 - 13 in the quarter and gave Vinny Del Negro a reason to send his starters to Ninfa's instead of back to the court. Chris Paul is the only starter to play in the final quarter.

The Clippers never hit a stride in the second half and failed to convert scoring opportunities. Jonathan Feigen noted that LA only scored 26 points in the paint tonight. That's below expectations for a team known for thunderous dunks and above-the-rim play.

Lastly, JJ Watt had a front row seat for the game tonight and his mere presence seems to breed an aura of success. Can someone please get JJ Watt in a cancer research laboratory ASAP?

What do you think turned a troubling match-up without James Harden into a big victory?

Did Greg Smith look like he belongs in the starting lineup over D-Mo?

Do Rockets fans even know who James Anderson is?

Let us know in the comments.