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Rockets fall short in heartbreaking loss to Clippers

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Behind John Wall, the Houston Rockets kept it close, but the Clippers ultimately prevailed in Houston. 

Los Angeles Clippers v Houston Rockets Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Since going from a team capable of making the playoffs to the lottery, there is always a quarter where things become bleak for the Houston Rockets. This abhorrent pattern normally takes place either in the second or third quarter, but Friday night, the Rockets avoided the reoccurring collapse. Unfortunately, Houston’s quality play for a near 48 minutes was still not enough.

The Rockets held an 80-76 lead over the Los Angeles Clippers entering the fourth quarter. The sound offense the Rockets put on display for three quarters dropped off a tad bit, as Los Angeles outscored Houston 33-24 in the final period to secure a 109-104 victory inside the Toyota Center.

With the loss, the Rockets dropped their eighth game in nine tries with their record falling to 15-45 on the season. The Clippers improved their record to 43-19 while taking a 2-0 regular-season series lead over the Rockets.

John Wall led the way for the Rockets with one of his best performances of the season. He recorded his seventh double-double of the year with a team-best of 27 points and 13 assists in 39 minutes. Christian Wood poured in a double-double of his own with 24 points and 19 rebounds in the loss.

Kelly Olynyk helped the Rockets end the night with three players who recorded a double-double, as the Canada native posted 23 points and 10 rebounds.

“We slow down on the offensive end and Paul George got going. They got into the bonus early in the fourth quarter, so our fouls hurt us. I know the free-throw game was a problem. We are limited with our depth, and I think it showed.” — Stephen Silas

Danuel House Jr. returned from an ankle injury after missing the previous 10 games. He came off the bench and recorded five points (2-4 FG, 1-3 3pt) in 21 minutes of play. House’s last game prior to his injury was on April 4 against the New Orleans Pelicans.

Paul George scored a game-high 33 points, but Rockets’ head coach Stephen Silas said most of his damage came from the charity stripe. Mostly held by Wall, George shot 37 percent from the field while connecting on three of his 10 attempts from behind the arc. He was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line.

“I wanted to guard him from the start. I am a competitor and I like the challenge of guarding the best player on the other team. Heck of a battle between us tonight.” — Wall

In addition to George, the Clippers had six players who scored in double-figures in their win over the Rockets. Reggie Jackson scored 19 points with Patrick Patterson and Ivica Zubac each adding in a dozen.

Following the loss, the Rockets will try to end their three-game losing streak on Saturday against the Denver Nuggets. Tip-off is slated for 9:00 P.M. CT inside Ball Arena.

As of now, Silas is unsure whether or not the Rockets will have the appropriate number of healthy players to play against the Nuggets. He announced that Jae’Sean Tate tweaked his ankle during the game, while Wood’s ankle has started to flare up. As part of his back-to-back restriction, Wall has already been ruled out against Denver.