Poor shot-selection, wide-open misses, zero effort on defense, and the inability to get an easy shot inside summed up the entire night for the Rockets. Houston’s largest, and only, lead of the game came within the first 128 seconds of the match when Russell Westbrook put in a layup to give the Rockets a 4-2 lead. The Clippers would go on an 13-2 run and never look back.
The Rockets put up their lowest-scoring half of the season, notching only 44 points through the first two quarters. A combination of the Clippers’ effectively disruptive defense and the Rockets’ inability to knock down open shots, while also refusing to attempt to take it inside, held them to only 2-of-22 shooting from deep.
That would essentially be the story of the game for the Rockets.
Houston could never get it rolling, and Los Angeles would never let them, shooting a combined 7-of-42 from three for the game — a 5-20 second half what their best shooting display of the night. Only Westbrook, with a game-high 29 points to go along with 5 assists and a game-high 15 rebounds, had success against the Clippers’ defense, and he still was was only 11-27 from the field.
James Harden was a no-show this game, shooting 4-17 from the field for 16 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists in only 27 minutes. Eric Gordon, still returning from injury, played 23 minutes and scored five points on 1-6 shooting from deep. And — well — I really don’t want to say more individual stats at the risk of sounding like I’m piling on.
For the other team, Kawhi Leonard led his team with 25 points on 8-15 shooting from the field. The Clippers big(ish) men, Ivica Zubac (17 points) and Montrezl Harrell (19 points), arguably had the most impact for Los Angeles, giving Houston fits all night in the paint. The two combined for 22 rebounds and had a boatload of easy shots at the rim after losing Houston defenders somewhere between picks and switches. The tandem shot 11-15 from the field (Zubac, 6-6 FGA) and went 14-16 from the line (Harrell, 9-10 FTA).
For Houston, it was a bizarre game. While there’s nothing really bizarre about being cold from the field, they weren’t necessarily outplayed in other areas like a team that was down by as much as 30 typically would be. The Rockets lost the rebounding battle by only, had six more offensive rebounds, only three less assists, one more steal, three less fast-break points, and four less turnovers. They were simply not making shots and were forced into difficult ones when they weren’t missing wide-open ones — no further explanation.
While the Rockets have a lot more kinks to work out, they’re not this much worse than the Clippers. Unfortunately for them, Houston looked to have lackadaisically stumbled into a game with the hottest team in the league, and they truly paid for it