Rockets cruise past Clippers, 98-81
Posted at: 03/30/2013 11:09 PM
By JORDAN GODWIN
(AP) HOUSTON - Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia scored 15 points apiece to lead the Houston Rockets to a 98-81 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Houston was playing without shooting guard and leading scorer James Harden, who missed his third game of the season with a right ankle sprain, but the Rockets had all the right answers in his absence.
Harden, who played 26 minutes and scored seven points in a 103-94 road loss to Memphis on Friday night, ranks fifth in the league with 26.0 points per game.
Garcia had his best game as a Rocket, hitting 3 of 5 shots from beyond the arc as a spark off the bench to help Houston snap a two-game losing streak.
Lin and Parsons combined for 13 points in Houston’s pivotal third quarter, when the Rockets outscored Los Angeles 30-13. The rally gave Houston a 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro had seen enough.
Point guard Chris Paul was the only Clippers starter to play in the final quarter, as Del Negro benched Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler and Willie Green in the fourth.
For the second consecutive game, the Clippers failed to secure their franchise-record 50th victory. The Clippers tied the 1974-75 team record for wins in a season by beating New Orleans on Wednesday.
Paul led the Clippers with 19 points, seven assists and three steals.
Los Angeles has lost three of its last four games, allowing at least 98 points in each loss.
The Rockets frustrated the Clippers in the second quarter as Griffin and Jamal Crawford both drew technical fouls. Garcia hit 3 of 4 shots from beyond the arc in the first half to lead the Rockets with 13 first-half points and a 55-50 lead.
Rockets center Omer Asik registered his 30th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, adding two blocks.
Making his first NBA start in place of Harden, Rockets guard James Anderson scored seven points and added five rebounds, two steals and two assists. Rockets forward Greg Smith had nine points and eight rebounds, also in his first professional start.
The loss dropped Los Angeles to fifth in the Western Conference as Memphis moved into the fourth spot with a win over Minnesota.
Houston finished March with a 9-4 record after going 6-5 in February. On Monday, the Rockets host Orlando, while the Clippers host Indiana.
NOTES: Harden sprained his right ankle in a Feb. 12 road victory at Golden State and did not play the following game. A similar injury to the same ankle also caused him to miss a Dec. 10 meeting against San Antonio. ... Clippers forward Barnes left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle sprain.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)