Game 2 Recap: Shorthanded Clippers fall to Rockets 109-115


Attempting to strike fire twice without star point guard Chris Paul after stealing Game 1 in Houston, the Los Angeles Clippers failed to do so in Game 2, falling to the Rockets 109-115, tying the series 1-1.

Having lost Game 1 to a Chris Paul-less team, it was expected for the Rockets to come out with an extra pep in their step. Instead, the first half closely resembled Game 1 of the series as the Rockets were unable to stop Blake Griffin, the driving force (26 points) behind a 65-56 half in the Clippers’ advantage.

Unfortunately, fatigue caught up with Griffin and company and the supporting cast was unable to overcome their shooting woes in the second half. Meanwhile, the Rockets finally found their groove, especially MVP runner-up James Harden, who scored 20 points in the half (16 in the fourth).

Like the Clippers, the Rockets struggled to knock down shots from behind the arc (both teams shot a combined 11-of-51 from three). Where the Rockets were able to generate points was from the free-throw line as the team set a playoff record in free-throws attempted (64) and free-throws made (42).

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With the Clippers being unable to generate points on the perimeter, the absence of Chris Paul reared his head. Not only does Paul provide an additional (and most efficient) scoring punch on the perimeter, but he opens the floor for Redick and Barnes on the perimeter, as well as Griffin in the halfcourt, all of which became an issue, especially as the Rockets thwarted Griffin in the second half with immediate double teams and a dose of Trevor Ariza fronting the big man on the block. And with Griffin out of the picture, the struggles of the backcourt stuck out — Barnes, Redick, and Crawford shot a combined 11-of-39)

Somehow, even with all of the above-mentioned issues, the Clippers were still in the ball game with under a minute left to go, but an ill-timed turnover from Austin Rivers in the open floor with 37 left in the game hurt the Clippers chance to get the deficit to one point. From there, Dwight Howard would knock down four consecutive free throws to put the game away.

Though the second half was lackluster for Griffin, the power forward still finished with a game-high 34 points to go along with 15 rebounds and four assists. Outside of Griffin, the Clippers received so-so offensive performances from his supporting cast as four others finished with double-digit points, including Austin Rivers, who scored 9 of this 10 points in the second half of the game.

For the Houston Rockets, the duo of James Harden and Dwight Howard once again led the way as Harden finished with a team-high 32 points and 7 assists (and 7 turnovers) and Howard finished with 24 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks. The other three Houston starters (Ariza, Jones, Terry) all finished with 10+ points.

With the first two games behind them, all eyes will shift to Chris Paul’s availability in Game 3 (Doc Rivers wouldn’t commit to saying so pre-game). Given the rest received dating back to Game 7 against the San Antonio Spurs, Paul is expected by many to make his return Friday barring an unsuspecting setback. With the next pair at home, the Clippers have the opportunity to go up 3-1 and the odds of them doing so without Paul are slim, though Game 1 will allow observers to be optimistic about the teams odds to do so.