(Sports Network) - An intriguing battle involving Western Conference
inhabitants is set to take place Saturday night between the Los Angeles
Clippers and Houston Rockets from the Toyota Center.
The Clippers will close out their quick tour through Texas and a four-game
road trip against the Rockets. Los Angeles is 1-2 on the swing and will try
not to lose any more ground in the West standings.
L.A., which is fourth in the conference at one-half game behind idle Denver
and one-half game ahead of Memphis, had won three of four games until running
into the West-leading San Antonio Spurs in a 104-102 setback Friday night. Tim
Duncan made a three-point play with 2.2 seconds left and Chris Paul misfired
on a shot at the horn for the Clippers.
"The Spurs are obviously having a tremendous season. They've been together a
long time," said Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro. "I thought we battled. We
could have slowed them down a little bit. We did a better job in the second
half controlling them as much as possible. We were not able to convert down
the stretch. They made a couple shots that we didn't. That's the difference in
Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford scored 18 and 16 points, respectively, and
Paul ended with 14 points and 12 assists for Los Angeles, which is 21-16 on
the road and will start a four-game homestand next week versus Indiana.
Clippers guard Chauncey Billups (groin) did not play in San Antonio.
The Clippers are averaging 100.9 ppg this season, eighth in the NBA.
Houston is second in the league with 106.0 ppg, but has been held under the
century mark in scoring over the last three games (1-2).
The Rockets had a three-game losing streak stopped versus Indiana on
Wednesday, then sustained a 103-94 setback Friday at Memphis. They shot 42
percent for the game and were led by 16 points from both Chandler Parsons and
"We made more mistakes defensively tonight than we have been," said Rockets
coach Kevin McHale.
James Harden had only seven points -- his lowest output since a six-point
effort Nov. 18 at Utah. Harden leads the Rockets in scoring and is fifth in
the NBA with 26.0 ppg.
Houston, which had won three straight and five of six games until the recent
slide, is 25-11 at home and seventh in the West -- 1 1/2 games behind Golden
State and 2 1/2 games in front of Utah and the L.A. Lakers.
The last time the Rockets lost three in a row was during a seven-game slide
from Jan. 9-19 this season.
Houston is winless (0-2) against the Clippers this season and has lost five in
a row and six of the last seven meetings.
The Sports Network