The Clippers’ varsity squad did their job and beat the Rockets’ JV squad in a 125-96 win. Los Angeles needed a win and a Jazz loss to the Warriors to clinch homecourt for the first round, but the Jazz got the road win, so it will come down to Wednesday night’s games in order to determine who hosts the beginning of the series. A win for the Clippers against the Kings at home will get the job done.
There really isn’t much to say about this game. Half of the playoff rotation was out resting and nursing injuries, and we saw a lot of guys that would normally not see a lot of playing time. The game started off strong and ended in a tie after the first quarter, and the Rockets were even able to push to an eight-point lead in the second quarter.
Then it went downhill from there.
The Rockets’ last lead came with just over a minute left in the second quarter, 57-56. With 4:31 left in the third quarter, it was 60-85. A 29-3 run sunk the Rockets and really took away any positives from the first half. James Harden was benched during the run and ended with just 14 points in 24 minutes. Tonight’s leading scorer was Eric Gordon, who scored just 17 points after taking last night off. Tonight’s bright spot might have been Troy Williams, who got off to a slow start, but ended with 15 points on 5-10 shooting.
The Clippers started off weak, but they took advantage when the Rockets took their foot off the gas. Jamal Crawford and Chris Paul each had a game-high 19 points and got the team one win away from hosting a first-round series vs. Utah.
Here are some takeaways from tonight:
Rockets look like they’re ready for the playoffs half the time. First-half Rockets looked ready, but second-half Rockets did not. They need to play a full game of consistent basketball to prove their readiness for the postseason.
Troy Williams has a motor. He had a hard fall in the first half on a foul from Marreese Speights, but got himself, and went ten times quicker. He’s proven himself worthy of some playing time in the playoffs.
James Harden needs to get back to going for wins, and not the MVP award. Tonight, he seemed like he wasn’t trying for the win, but for the MVP. An MVP award is the cherry on top, but there is no cherry without the sundae, which is winning as many games as possible.
The Rockets have one more game before the battle versus the Thunder. They take on the Wolves at home on Wednesday. Hopefully the whole gang will be back and they can prove to Red Nation -- and themselves -- that they can be as dangerous as anyone in this run to the title.
Rockets vs. Timberwolves tips off at 7 PM CT on Wednesday.