Rockets Coach Kevin McHale says team was focused on beating Clippers

Rockets Coach Kevin McHale says team was focused on beating Clippers
Houston Rockets Coach Kevin McHale, center, speaks with Pablo Prigioni, left, and Terrence Jones during the team's 110-105 win over the Clippers at Staples Center on Wednesday. (Pat Sullivan / Associated Press)

Entering Wednesday's game, the Clippers had won six straight over the Houston Rockets and 11 of their last 12 dating back to 2012.

Houston Rockets Coach Kevin McHale really wanted that to change.

"Normally, I don't prepare to just beat one team," McHale said. "Normally, we say 'this team will stress this part of our defense' but we kind of work on our team and our game all the time, but we really worked hard the last couple of days on just what it takes to beat the Los Angeles Clippers."

After being down one point, 85-84, at the end of the third quarter on Wednesday, the Rockets opened the fourth with a 15-1 run to lead by as much as 13 points. The Clippers could never quite recover.

Rockets shooting guard James Harden called the win over the Clippers "very important."

"Just to give us the confidence to beat these guys," Harden said. "They're a really good team. They beat us six times in a row so it was very important for us to just come out and get a win and just scrap and do whatever it takes."

The last time the teams met, the Clippers won, 110-95, on Feb. 11. DeAndre Jordan had 24 points and 20 rebounds in that game, finishing with his second 20-20 performance of his career.

When the teams played earlier this season on Nov. 28, the Clippers won, 102-85. Blake Griffin had a game-high 30 points and 10 rebounds in that game as the Clippers outshot the Rockets from the field, 47% to 39%.

"They were beating the tar out of us," McHale said of the Clippers. "We had a heck of a time staying in the games with them, to be truthful. We got blown out a lot of those games."

The Rockets are ahead of the Clippers in the standings, sitting in third place with a record of (38-18) while the Clippers are in sixth place with a record of (37-20).

As of right now, the teams are aligned to meet in the playoffs.

While the Rockets' locker room was celebrating Wednesday, Clippers Coach Doc Rivers was fielding questions about his team's playoff positioning.

"We lost the game and what can we do about it?" Rivers asked. "Should I go in and yell at the guys. They're all (games) important. The rest of all our games will be important from this time on."

The Clippers lost to the Rockets in their first game of a four-game trip. They play another strong competitor in the Western Conference on Friday in the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies are in second place with a record of 41-14.

"We've just got to be ready," Chris Paul said. "It's another game, second half of the season, everybody trying to get geared up for the playoffs."