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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers game preview

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The Rockets head to LA to finish a road back-to-back before the All-Star break.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It's a cliche to say that a team needs the All-Star break in the worst way.

In reality, every team can say it. Players are banged up and burned out. Coaches probably want to get away or figure out new strategies. GMs can get together and try to come up with cool trades that help their team in the short- and long-term.

The Rockets don't really need the All-Star break, other than for the reasons listed. Sure, it's nice to get through a week without a game because it means that Houston won't be missing Dwight Howard for that week. It allows Terrence Jones to get over the flu.

Obviously, you hope that Patrick Beverley finds time to fix his shot, or that Joey Dorsey finds a way to grow 4 inches.

It's the Rockets, so it all comes down to James Harden. He's probably burned out after playing for the national team at the FIBA World Cup. But he's playing his best basketball right now. 85 points scored over his last two games and is absolutely dominating the league.

However, the Rockets will have to deal with the Los Angeles Clippers first. Since James Harden was traded to Houston, the Clippers have owned the Rockets. Houston only has one win over the Clippers to go with eight losses. Oh, and Harden didn't play in the win.

Part of the issue is Blake Griffin. As in, the problem is that he's really good and burns Houston whenever he plays them. Griffin won't be available tonight due to a staph infection, and he might miss Houston's next game against the Clippers on February 25.

In his absence, the Clippers are 1-1. They were defeated soundly by the Thunder but turned around and won big in Dallas. DeAndre Jordan came up big with 22/27 in that win.

Chris Paul may not have many fans in this part of the woods, but he's still the best pure point guard in the league and controls the game completely. J.J. Redick has never missed against the Rockets. Jamal Crawford can score 20 points in an instant, and Matt Barnes is a thorn in everyone's side. Even Austin Rivers is showing flashes of good play in LA.

With Houston on a back-to-back and the Clippers not having played last night, this is a tall task for Houston.

Prediction: Clippers win 117-98.

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CST on ESPN.

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