November 4, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Rockets small forward Omri Casspi (18) moves to the basket against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Preview #7: LAC at HOU - A Road Win Would Be Nice


The comforts of home must be something the Los Angeles Clippers (3-3)  love. Coming into tonight’s game against the Houston Rockets (3-3), the Clippers are 0-2 away from Staples Center. The competition away from home has been a balance of average and great (Orlando and Miami), but they’ve underperformed by on the road.

Tonight is a good night to get back on track. They’ve shown that they can match up with the Houston Rockets after defeating them 137-118 in the team’s first meeting. J.J. Redick showed his true worth on the offensive end, Chris Paul was Chris Paul and, most importantly, the world got to see how bad James Harden was playing off-ball defense.

Looking at who that match went, you can only ask for the Clippers to do all the things they did and hope the outcome is the same.

For the Houston Rockets it’s a different story. Patrick Beverly, the teams’ starting point guard who missed a few games due to tearing an torn abdominal muscle. has returned giving them more depth at the guard spot. James Harden played poorly by his standards, going 6-16 from the floor for 15 points and only took 5 free throws which is well below his 9.3 attempts per game.

Most importantly for the Rockets is Dwight staying out of foul trouble. Less than 30 minutes isn’t enough for Howard to make an impact and with the lack of  big man depth on Houston’s bench, that impact can’t be made up from anyone else.

The Rockets have struggled, dropping two of their last three games, meaning this is a good way for the Clippers to bounce back from their two consecutive losses. If anything a win tonight gives the Clippers well enough confidence as their schedule gets rough in the next two weeks (MIN, OKC, BK, MEM, @ MIN, @ OKC).

Things to Watch

1. Is It Finally Reggie Bullock Time?

It was thought that an injury to Matt Barnes would open the door for rookie Reggie Bullock to get some time, but Doc Rivers has opted to go with veteran Willie Green instead. Now Jared Dudley is dealing with an injury which could lower his effectiveness on the floor:

Jared Dudley playing tonight vs Rockets. Has tendinitis right knee. Matt Barnes not playing with right thigh bruise

— Brad Turner (@BA_Turner) November 9, 2013

Arash Markazi of ESPN LA has reported that Dudley will be playing, but expect his minutes to be limited tonight. And to put it nicely, Willie Green isn’t the answer. He’s a serviceable guy when needed in emergency purposes, but at what point do you give Bullock a chance. His strengths are the same as Greens, three-point shooting, but his height gives him a better chance to defend bigger players. Worst case scenario is that he’s worst than Green and you go back to the original plan. But he deserves a chances, especially with Dudley being limited.

2. Get Chris Paul Going

There isn’t a more important player on this team than Chris Paul. Look at Paul’s win-loss numbers:

Win: 30.3 points, 14.0 assists, 57.6 FG%,  42.9 3P%, 128.6 Offensive Rating
Loss: 14.7 points, 11.0 assists, 37.3 FG%, 0 3P%, 99.3 Offensive Rating

There’s is a fine line between scoring and creating that Chris Paul has balanced throughout his career, but the more aggressive version of he is what this team needs. Jeremy Lin and Pat Beverly aren’t the greatest perimeter defenders, so he could be in store for a great night.

3. Harden on Defense

I’ll let the video say all that needs to be said here though he may not play in tonight’s game.

Tags: Blake Griffin Chris Paul Dwight Howard Game Preview Houston Rockets James Harden Los Angeles Clippers NBA