Houston Rockets need much better energy for Game 2 against Clippers

Houston Rockets need much better energy for Game 2 against Clippers
Clippers forward Matt Barnes blocks the shot of Rockets forward Josh Smith in the fourth quarter of Game 1. The Clippers won 117-101. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Effort and energy can only come from within.

The Houston Rockets are trying to figure out why they lacked it in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Clippers.


Houston had last played a game April 28, a close-out first-round game against the Dallas Mavericks at home.

There was no reason to think the Rockets wouldn't be ready for the Clippers on Monday night with five days to rest and prepare.

But when the Rockets gave up 37 points to the Clippers in the third quarter, it was a clear sign that Houston wasn't ready.

"We came out very lethargic," Josh Smith said. "We acted like this wasn't a playoff game today with the energy level."

The Rockets will look at film and see how their poor judgment led to so many of their 24 turnovers.

They will see how James Harden wasn't very aggressive, taking just 13 shots and making six for 20 points.

Harden is Houston's catalyst, and when he's not on the attack, the Rockets aren't the same team.

Dwight Howard had 20 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, but he wasn't the force the Rockets need the center to be.

The Rockets played little defense in the second half, giving up 71 points, letting the Clippers shoot 56.4% from the field, 68.8% from three-point range.

Chris Paul, who didn't play in the first game because of a strained left hamstring, may or may not play in Game 2 Wednesday night in Houston.

But whether Paul plays or not, the Rockets know they have to put forth a better effort than they gave in the first game.

"Of course I can't put my finger on why we didn't play with the type of energy that we needed to play in the playoffs," Trevor Ariza said. "But if we want to continue to play, we can't play that way."

Follow Broderick Turner on Twitter @BA_Turner