Los Angeles Clippers
MVP: James Harden made 17 free throws as part of a game-high 34-point effort, his career-high against the Clippers. Harden drew at least one foul from every Clippers starter, and every Clippers starter drew at least four fouls in this game. Los Angeles made only 14 free throws for the game, so it’s clear where the disadvantage was for the Clippers in a two-point margin.
That was … careless: The Clippers had control of the first 18 minutes of this game. But midway through the second quarter, Matt Barnes tackled James Harden, drawing a flagrant foul. Houston outscored the Clippers 26-14 in the last half of the second quarter, and led by 15 points with five minutes left in the third quarter. The Clippers made up the deficit late in the fourth, but they never overcame their inability to defend Harden without fouling, and they had six of their 20 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
X factor: Rockets, on the road, up by two, defending an inbound at midcourt. It didn’t work out for them in May when an All-Star point guard got the rock. With a few more seconds to defend, the Rockets had a player who has proven to be an outstanding wing complement to Harden in Trevor Ariza to handle Chris Paul. Ariza didn’t give Paul a chance at a clean look and didn’t commit a foul, preserving a win that kept the Rockets from dropping the season series to the Clippers.
— Law Murray
Tweets Of The Game
Matt Barnes was just trying get Oakley to watch the game.
— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) March 15, 2015
Corey Brewer gives Blake Griffin a taste of his own medicine! https://t.co/2Qdn5EfT9d
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) March 15, 2015
— Jill Painter Lopez (@jillpainter) March 15, 2015
Check Your Messages
A First Round Flop?
Two teams with some of the most polarising stars in the game are very likely to square off in a seven game series. Today, we got another glimpse at what that series may look like: Chris Paul flops, James Harden flops ft. Matt Barnes tackles, Corey Brewer flops, Blake Griffin flops, sometimes broken up by Hack-a-Jordan. It was ugly. It was rough. It was tough to watch. Somehow, a seven game series between two teams with some of the most dynamic offensive players in the league could be one of the most difficult to watch.
– Roscoe Whalan
It’s not a surprise that this game was so contentious just based on the closeness in records and playoff seeding, but for a game between two teams that don’t have a lot of history with each other, it was rather chippy as well. That it comes in the same game that Blake Griffin returns should come as no surprise.
The sum of this roster is laden with instigators, but there is something about adding Blake into the mix that pushes opposing teams over the edge. None of this is a surprise or a new development for the residents of Clipper Nation, but for a coach that has long pined for a Garnett type, he’d be hard pressed to find a player that stirs the drink more than Blake.
– Brandon Tomyoy
A Clippers-Rockets Love Story
One of the game’s best basketball players came back from a gnarly staph infection and almost notched a triple-double. The other is one of the world’s best perimeter defenders and moments later rushed Chris Paul into an airball at the buzzer. Blake Griffin and Trevor Ariza are two of the best at their specific roles. So it was only fitting that in the pivotal moment of a Clippers-Rockets game that both awkwardly fell to the floor hoping for some type of call going their way.
Griffin was given the charge and Ariza lept up celebrating.
The Clippers and Rockets might not play in the first round of the postseason but the matchup between the two looks like a match made in Bizarro Heaven. One team predicated on drawing fouls, the other on incessant whining to officials. Except there’s very little difference between the two.
There are sublime moments to be had throughout today’s game. James Harden’s crossover into an and-one on CP3. Griffin’s all-around mastery despite the requisite rust. But throughout the entire game, the Rockets and Clippers played like each other, against each other, and look like this is a postseason series made for each other.
– Andy Liu