The Clippers' 128-95 blowout over Houston in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday night put the Clippers one game away from reaching the Western Finals for the first time. Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan also won their seventh postseason game for the first time since they teamed in the 2011-12 season. Here's five takeaways from the Clippers' win Sunday:
1) The Rockets have no answers the Clippers' offense
The Clippers have scored 117, 109. 124 and 128 points in this series. And for the fourth game in a row, the Clippers outshot the Rockets from the field, 49.45 to 41.0%. The Clippers have basically outplayed the Rockets in 14 of 16 quarters in this series, with the exception of the second half in Game 2 in Houston.
2) The Clippers' bench isn't a problem:
For the second straight game the Staples Center crowd chanted: "Aus-tin Rivers" in the second half. The coach's son had 12 points in Game 4 and was a key reason why, through three quarters, the Clippers' bench had outscored the Rockets, 25-7, while opening up a 24-point lead. For the series, Rivers is averaging 16 points on 55.8% shooting, something no one, including Rockets Coach Kevin McHale, would have expected.
3) Chris Paul is still their field general on one good leg
He played only 26 minutes in Game 4 and was hesitant to drive into the lane and finish. Instead, he stuck with shooting from the outside. But he penetrated enough to draw two defenders, opening up several easy scores for Griffin and Jordan at the rim en route to a game-high 12 assists.
4) Dwight Howard lost control of his emotions
On the Rockets' first play of the game Jordan contested Howard as he tried to get into position and Howard hit the deck. He was angry after that play and picked up his second foul and went to the bench at the 8:20 mark of the first quarter. Howard never found any rhythm after he returned and was ejected early in the fourth quarter. He was also a disaster on the free-throw line, missing five of six. For the series, Howard is shooting 36.2% from the line, versus 47.3% for Jordan.
5) Blake Griffin is a challenge for the Rockets
For the series, Griffin is averaging 25.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Houston has tried rotating forwards Terrence Jones, Josh Smith, and occasionally Howard to defend Griffin, and in Game 4 James Harden took several turns trying to guard Griffin. But Griffin has had little trouble getting into the lane and scoring with mini-hooks or bank shots. When he's fouled, Griffin has also done well at the line, and is shooting 76% in the series.