The Houston Rockets and Los Angles Clippers met for the third time already this season. Coming into this game both teams had one win each. There were plenty of storylines coming into this game. From Russell Westbrook vs Patrick Beverly to James Harden vs two elite defenders in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Every game so far between these two teams have been close and this game was no different.
First half Rockets sputter out the gate
Early on you can tell both teams whereinto this game. Beverly had the early assignment on Harden and as usual, had plenty of help. When Beverly or Moe Harkless had the assignment of guarding Harden help would come soon as Harden made his move. This open up the game for Westbrook to get to the basket early and often. The Clippers took the early lead but the Houston Rockets fought back to end the first quarter and the Rockets were only down one 27-28. Harden started slow from the field but was making the right passes to get teammates open shots.
The second quarter was a different story. The Clippers came out fast forcing turnovers and getting out on the fast break. The Clippers bench which one of the best in the league help push the lead to double digits. Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet and Patrick Patterson were too much for the Rockets bench. The Clippers bench would go on to outscore the Rockets bench in the game 45-18. The Clippers won the quarter 41-27 to take a 15 point lead going into the half 69-54.
Houston Rockets come out strong
The script was flipped in the third quarter as the Rockets were the aggressors. Harden who only had seven points at the half started to get it going from the field. Westbrook continues to dominate in the paint drawing fouls and not settling for outside shots. The Rocket’s defense picked up in this quarter forcing turnovers and getting out the break.
The Rockets finally started to get contributions from other players outside there two superstars. Danuel House had a big 3-pointer to end the quarter that would give the Rockets there first lead since the first quarter.
The two constant all games were Westbrook scoring in the paint and PJ Tucker’s excellent defense on Leonard. Tucker hounded Leonard all game and no more so than in the fourth quarter. Leonard would finish 9-19 from the field and also had five turnovers. The majority of those misses was because Tucker was excellent all game keeping a hand in Leonard’s face. The Clippers made a run halfway through the fourth and took the lead 113-107 with 4:29 left in the game.
Rockets close it out
Instead of the Rockets fading they went on there on 6-0 run, when Harden hit a stepback and Westbrook, drove made the layup and was fouled. The Rockets would go on a 9-4 run to end the game and take the win 122-117.
Westbrook was the star of the game finishing with 40 points 10 rebounds and five assists. Harden started slow but had a great overall game finishing with 28 points on an efficient 8-16 from the field. Every Rocket starter finished in double-digits as the Rockets improved to 19-9 on the season after there biggest win to date.
Next up a visit to Phoenix to take on the Suns Sat, Dec.21 at 8 PM CT.