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Rockets Breakdown: Houston abandons defense in Game 3 blowout

The return of Chris Paul and Austin Rivers' best game ever spell doom for the Rockets.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The return of Chris Paul to the starting lineup energized the Clippers and helped them get going offensively.Paul played just over seven minutes in the first quarter but still managed to get two buckets and five assists. Paul scored or assisted on 16 of the Clippers first 19 points.

If that's not efficiency, I don't know what is.

Paul and the Clippers did it all by simply running the Rockets through a heavy dose of pick and roll's. CP3 managed to pick apart the Rockets defense even though he was playing on one leg and noticeably favoring that gimpy hamstring.

Point God Pick and Rolls

The Clippers came out and gave the Rockets a heavy dose of CP3/Blake Griffin pick and rolls. The Rockets, in turn, had no idea what to do. Check out the first example where Trevor Ariza goes over the screen and Terrence Jones drops back towards the paint.

Paul has plenty of space to see the floor, makes a great pocket pass to Griffin who has the entire lane to himself. The Clippers smartly station J.J. Redick on Griffin's side of the floor so his man can't help. Dwight Howard is rightly hugging DeAndre Jordan, we all know the kind of big-to-big passing the Clippers are capable of.

But look at James Harden, standing straight up and in no position to help. I get the play could be coming his way and he needs to defend his man, but he is in no position to defend anyone. Harden should essentially be doubling Jordan so Howard can slide over and contest Griffin on the roll.

If Paul does some wizardry with the ball and somehow gets it to Matt Barnes in the corner, then you can live with that. The Rockets can't survive Griffin uncontested rolls to the hoop for dunks and layups.

Check out where this pick and roll takes place. On the block. Where post players of yesteryear used to make a living. And what does Trevor Ariza do? He goes under the screen? Under!!! With his man 10 feet from the hoop!!!

Paul has already maneuvered himself into great position and then Ariza just leaves him wide open by going under the screen. In a spot on the floor where there is not as much space, Ariza has fight over the screen and force Paul to make a perfect pass to Jordan or attack the rim with Howard in position to contest.

Granted, Paul can make that pass and score over Howard, but it's much tougher than a wide open jumper from the block.

Here, Jason Terry goes over the screen and everyone just kind of watches Paul get to his favorite and most deadly spot on the floor, the elbow.

No one steps up. There is no rotation. The defense is definitely not moving on a string. Howard doesn't commit to Paul. Harden is in no man's land. Jones is guarding Griffin who isn't even in the picture. And Ariza is just hanging out on the weak side, staying way to close to the Clippers' worst offensive option.

The Rockets had the sixth-best defense in the NBA this season, but it seems they have abandoned everything that made them so successful in the regular season.

Here, Terry goes under the screen and Paul knocks down an open three. And I mean a wide open three.

Look at the space the screen creates for Paul when Terry goes under. At some point the Rockets are going to have to decide if they want to play defense and give a much better effort. Terry should have fought over the screen, Jones should have been shadowing over when Paul turned the corner and then if the pass goes to Griffin on the wing the Rockets have to trust their defensive rotations. If not, a one legged Paul will continue to meticulously to pick them apart.

Luckily for the Rockets, as Harden said "It was a blowout, but it's still one game." If the Rockets can actually play with energy and intensity and urgency in Game 4, they can head back to Houston the same way they came to L.A., with the series tied.