Clippers need to catch breath before Game 3 against Houston

It has been a whirlwind for the Clippers over the last five days, the highs and lows of the Western Conference playoffs forcing them to use every ounce of energy they have.

Now they simply need to catch their breath for a moment before facing the Houston Rockets in Game 3 of the semifinals Friday night at Staples Center.


First and foremost, however, the Clippers need Chris Paul back if he's healthy enough to play after missing the first two games in the series with a strained left hamstring.

Paul's presence would be a big boost for the Clippers. It would give them a lift that could help propel the team at just the right time.

The Clippers survived without Paul, stealing Game 1 on Monday night when everyone figured they would be exhausted from the taxing first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs.

By winning that first game, the Clippers return to Los Angeles having taken away the home-court advantage from the Rockets, leaving the best-of-seven series tied at 1-1.

The Clippers need to rediscover their edge after seemingly losing it in the third quarter during the loss in Game 2 Wednesday night at the Toyota Center.

They had a 13-point lead early in the third, but then became disoriented on offense from the pressure the Rockets applied.

And there are some things the Clippers need to clean up.

They were badly out-rebounded by the Rockets in Game 2, 54-40. The Clippers surrendered 15 offensive rebounds to the Rockets.

In the crucial fourth quarter, the Clippers' defense dipped and they allowed the Rockets to score 32 points.

Still, the Clippers are back home feeling good about what they accomplished in Houston.

They don't have much time to catch their breath with one day between games, but it's just enough catch their next wind.

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner