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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers game preview

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The Rockets look to move up the standings when they take on the Los Angeles Clippers on ESPN.

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For the first time in almost 2 months, the Rockets are playing a team on a back-to-back on a night where Houston is not on a back-to-back. Plus, the game is at home! Looks like the schedule makers screwed up big time and someone will likely be fired over this terrible oversight. Believe me, heads will roll.

Houston sits half a game out of the coveted sixth seed in the Western Conference. Nothing is going to make up for the disaster that this regular season has been for the Rockets, but any chance to redeem themselves will have to come in the playoffs. And that redemption has zero chance of occurring if the opponents are the Golden State Warriors or San Antonio Spurs. And before you ask, no the Rockets aren't likely the beat the Thunder or Clippers or whomever they face in the first round (assuming they make the playoffs at all). But against the Thunder or Clippers there's at least a miniscule chance.

Speaking of the Clippers, they're the opponents tonight at the Yote. LA went into San Antonio last night and held a lead late in the third quarter and were only down 1 heading into the final frame. San Antonio won the game by 21 points. I watched the game, and here are some observations that pertain to Houston's game tonight.

1. The Spurs started of poorly from behind the arc but hit a bunch of them early in the fourth quarter to pull away. Houston's been struggling from deep but if they can hit enough they can create some distance.

2. The Clippers flat-out cannot afford to sit Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan against a great team like the Spurs. Again, Houston isn't San Antonio (don't I wish...), but the point here is that LA's bench is still subpar. Cole Aldrich led the bench in scoring last night. Paul and Jordan had a combined +/- of 0. The bench finished with -92. If Houston's bench can take advantage this game could be over in a hurry since it's a back-to-back for LA.

3. J.J. Redick: still a Rocket killer. I don't even care that he was playing San Antonio. I had PTSD every time he took a shot.

4. All that talk about how the Clippers don't need Blake Griffin? Yeah that talk never should have started, but it's certainly been put to rest now. When the choice at the trade deadline was Griffin or maybe 3 true rotation players plus picks, it was a toss-up. But now when the choice is Griffin or no Griffin, the Rockets and pretty much every Clippers opponent should be glad it's no Griffin.

5. This Clippers team still takes too many questionable shots and there are too many poor decision-makers on the team. Paul, Jordan, and Redick are all fantastic. And Jamal Crawford has earned the benefit of the doubt. But Wesley Johnson and Jeff Green are two chuckers that are too inconsistent for this team. And Austin Rivers always looks like he's one piece of dust away from tripping.

Obviously, Houston isn't perfect and suffers from plenty of similar issues (see all of the above). But right now on this night, the Houston Rockets are the more talented and more healthy team. Plus, with the opponents on a back-to-back and a home game, Houston has no excuse not to win this game. Now we'll just wait and see if they manage to find a way to lose it.

Also, I've been given the exclusive information about the broadcast team for tonight's game. Here they are:

Play-by-play commentator that favors the Clippers.

Color commentator that will openly root for the Clippers.

Courtside reporter that talks only about the Clippers.

Oh well, at least it's better than the uber-homerific Clippers broadcast team (come at me, you salty Lawler Lovers!).

Tip-off is at 8:30pm CST on ESPN.

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