NBA: LA Clippers cruise to lopsided win over Houston Rockets

Field Level Media via Reuters

Posted at Mar 06 2020 12:14 PM

NBA: LA Clippers cruise to lopsided win over Houston Rockets 1
Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell (5) shoots the ball against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Troy Taormina, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell posted double-doubles, and the visiting Los Angeles Clippers drubbed the Houston Rockets, 120-105, on Thursday night.

The Clippers extended their winning streak to six consecutive games and, perhaps of greater significance, squared the season series with Houston at two games apiece. The Clippers own the superior record within the Western Conference should the teams finish tied in the standings.

Leonard added six rebounds, five assists and two steals in just 29 minutes while Zubac (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Harrell (19 points, 10 rebounds) punished the smaller Rockets inside. Paul George (13 points) and Marcus Morris Sr. (11 points) added to the Clippers onslaught.

Russell Westbrook paired 29 points with 15 rebounds while James Harden scored 16 points on 4-of-17 shooting for Houston, which trailed by as many as 30 points and led only once at 4-2.

Leading 27-23 late in the first quarter, the Clippers floored Houston with a pair of dominating runs, the first sparked by their second unit. Reserve guard Reggie Jackson ignited the initial rally with a corner 3 and later added a layup in transition. In between, the Clippers recorded seven consecutive free throws before Harrell scored at the rim for only the second basket of a 12-0 blitz.

The Clippers extended their run to 16-5 with two more Harrell free throws for a 43-28 lead, and before the Rockets could muster a legitimate response, the Clippers buried them for good.

Leonard drilled a 3-pointer, Zubac made a hook shot and Morris hit a pair of treys. When Zubac followed another Leonard trey with a cutting dunk, the Clippers led, 65-39, with 3:18 remaining in the half.

The Clippers shot a robust 52.4 percent in the first half, including 8 of 18 from behind the arc. Leonard (17 points), Zubac (14), Morris (11) and Harrell (10) all scored in double figures prior to the intermission, charging the Rockets with too many options to flank with their switching defense.

The Rockets, meanwhile, went ice cold from deep. Jeff Green sank the 3 that pulled Houston to within four points at the 1:30 mark of the opening period. Houston closed the half by missing the ensuing 12 3-point attempts and extended that stretch to 20 consecutive misses before Eric Gordon converted from deep with 1:57 left in the third to cut the deficit to 86-61.

The Rockets finished 7 for 42 on 3s en route to their second consecutive loss after winning 10 of 12 games.

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