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Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers game preview

Houston Rockets v LA Clippers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets return to Staples Center for the second time this year for their third overall meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s the start of a four-game road trip for the good guys.

With their next upcoming games against the Clippers (TNT), Suns (NBA TV), Kings, and Warriors (ABC on Christmas Day), the Rockets are going to be in front of a national audience several times in the upcoming days. That’s going to give the media a close look at their least favorite team, but it’s great news for Rockets fans living outside Houston.

You know what’s going on with the Clippers already. They have two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they have three ex-Rockets in Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell, and three solid rotation players in Ivica Zubac, Maurice Harkless, and Landry Shamet. They can also call upon Rodney McGruder and Patrick Patterson to fill in minutes when necessary. They have a tremendous amount of talent and three of the best defensive players in the league. They are my pick to win the NBA title, even with the Lakers and Bucks making noise early.

For the Rockets, this is probably a game they can expect to lose. They’ve played two tight games against the Clippers so far, so we’ll see. I know that I’m risking a troll invasion for saying it, but I’m interested to see if James Harden keeps getting stonewalled from his normal trips to the free throw line. In Houston’s last five games, Harden is averaging six free throw attempts per game after averaging closer to 14 earlier in the season. Is Harden being fouled less, or have the officials decided to limit his trips to the charity stripe?

Also, Houston’s last game in Los Angeles was one of Russell Westbrook’s worst games as a Rocket, and his wide open clank on a three late in the game when Houston was only down one is a memory he’ll probably want to put behind him.

Tip-off is at 9:30pm CT on TNT