The LA Clippers came into this game vs. Houston wanting revenge after losing against the Rockets last year in the playoffs up 3-1 in games and with a huge lead in game 6 when they had a fourth quarter meltdown even while Houston played the quarter without star James Harden. Harden wasn’t missing in this game as he scored 46 points to lead the team with a variety of spectacular driving baskets, outside shots and free throws. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 20 rebounds and made 4 clutch free throws near the end of the game when Clippers Coach Doc Rivers instructed the intentional foul on him. Houston won 109-105 but there was controversy at the end of the game.
The Clippers were without leader Chris Paul, who sat out with a groin injury that seems to be day to day. He was on the bench cheering and helping when he could talking to players. He said “if I could play, I was going to play” as he played in all 82 regular season games last year for the first time. LA came out with their new black uniforms they will wear on Saturday nights this year and encourage fans to wear black on those nights too.
However, LA managed to be in control much of the game with Blake Griffin leading the way with 35 points and DeAndre Jordan grabbing 14 rebounds with 11 points and JJ Redick had 19 points.. The Rockets were also shorthanded playing without Patrick Beverly (concussion), Terrance Jones (eye laceration) and Donatas Motiejunas (back pain) but they still had the Clippers number.
A huge call was missed at the end of the game when LA frantically rallied to first tie the game before Harden got fouled on a drive to put them back up by 2 points. On the ensuing play after a missed shot, Griffin tipped the ball twice and Howard knocked the second tip away even though it was clear it was on the rim which should have resulted in a gold-tending call to tie the game. The NBA confirmed the missed call the next day but since there was no call at the time, they could not use instant reply to check it out. That seems to be a glitch in the system as they have imposed instant reply but that can still be overlooked or missed on human error. Isn’t that the case for instant replay? Coach Rivers said in the post-game interviews “this wasn’t the reason we lost the game as our team didn’t play well enough and didn’t have a sense of urgency.”
Next up are the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night which will be a tough game again even though Memphis has been struggling this year. They always give the Clippers fits and Paul is 50-50 to play. More at www.nba.com/clippers