Rockets vs Clippers preview notes

Houston_RocketsThe Rockets host the Clippers for the second time this season on Wednesday night. Houston has already lost to Los Angeles twice this season and six consecutive times overall. Since James Harden arrived in Houston prior to the 2012-13 season, Houston has beaten the Clippers just once in nine tries and he didn’t even play in that lone victory.

In the third meeting of Harden’s first season in Houston, the Rockets topped the Clippers, 98-81. Their stating backcourt was Jeremy Lin and James Anderson. Their starting frontcourt that night is in Dallas now, Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith. Houston also had 22 turnovers. On top of that, the Clippers were at full strength with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Jamal Crawford and they were looking for their franchise-record 50th win of the season.

Houston led by five at the half, but outscored Los Angeles 30-13 in the third quarter and built as much as a 22-point lead. Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro benched three of his starters for the entire fourth quarter.

– The Clippers have scored more than 81 points in every game since that loss, March 30, 2013, a streak of 147 games.

– Since that Rockets win, the Clippers have averaged 112.5 points in their six consecutive wins over the Rockets.

– Harden has played the Clippers seven times since joining the Rockets and lost all seven times. His numbers certainly match up with those results: 17.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game, while shooting 36 percent (41-113) overall and just 14 percent (7-50) from the 3-point line. He’s also turned it over 32 times (4.6 per game).

– This season the numbers are even worse: 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6 assists per game, 33 percent (8-24) FG, and has missed all 11 of his 3-point attempts. All that and five turnovers per game. His offensive rating against the Clippers is 79, his second worst mark against any team this season. (He has a 78 offensive rating against the Pelicans, against whom the Rockets are also 0-2).

– Chris Paul’s numbers during the Clippers six-game winning streak: 17.1 points, 11.7 assists per game.

– Houston has shot under 40 percent from the field just 10 times this season. Two of those times have come against the Clippers. Their worst 3-point shooting performance of the season also came against the Clippers (9-45, 20 percent).

– Dwight Howard has missed each game with the Clippers and will be out for this game also. When the teams met two weeks ago, with Josh Smith and Corey Brewer now Rockets, Houston trailed by just one point heading into the fourth-quarter. But the team shot just 5-of-24 from the floor and missed 12-of-14 3-point shots and ended up losing by 15. The Rockets were also without Terrence Jones, who was ill for that game. Jones is expected to make his 6th start of this season in this meeting. Houston is 5-0 when he starts.

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