All that running in circles J.J. Redick does actually leads somewhere.
It results in nights like Monday, when the shooting guard leaves Clippers fans, and defenders chasing him around the perimeter, breathless.
Redick made almost everything, including a shot he missed that was tipped in, on the way to a career-high 40 points. He made 11 of 19 shots, including nine of 12 from three-point range, and all nine free throws to set his career high for three-pointers and tie Caron Butler's franchise record.
Redick's final three-pointer early in the extra period helped the Clippers hold off the Rockets, who had wiped out a 14-point deficit in the final 4 minutes 17 seconds of the fourth quarter in shades of their epic comeback here in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals last season.
"I haven't seen him locked in like this shooting the ball since he was at Duke doing it against us at Wake [Forest]," Clippers point guard Chris Paul said.
Redick even managed to make two free throws with 39 seconds left in overtime after getting poked in the eye by Jason Terry. Redick was also credited with a basket in the third quarter on a miss tipped in by Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones as they fought for the rebound.
"D.J. was like, 'Yo, that went in,'" Redick said, referring to teammate DeAndre Jordan, "and I was like, 'What?'"
Redick "was our spirit today and he was tired of losing to them, and I thought he carried it on the floor and it was personal for him," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "His demeanor was even better than the 40 points."
The Clippers held a 122-119 lead after Redick made six free throws in the final 16 seconds of regulation, but Marcus Thornton made a three-pointer with 7.4 seconds left to tie the score and Paul missed a contested jumper that could have won the game.
Paul finished with five three-pointers as part of his 28 points to help the Clippers set a franchise record with 22 three-pointers.
Jordan looked like his spry self in his return from a two-game absence caused by pneumonia, collecting 16 points and 15 rebounds.
The Clippers improved to 10-1 in games when Redick scores at least 20 points. He's trying to become the first NBA player to make the 50-50-90 club by making at least half of his field goals and three-pointers while shooting 90% or better from the free-throw line. Steve Kerr met those thresholds during the 1995-96 season but did not meet the minimum number of attempts for field goals or free throws.
After Monday, Redick was making 48.9% of his field-goal attempts, 50% of his three-point shots and 89.5% of his free throws.
Howard had 36 points and 26 rebounds while displaying some unusual accuracy of his own at the free-throw line, where he made 14 of 18 shots. The Rockets took 52 free throws overall, 19 more than the Clippers.
It was the Clippers' first victory over the Rockets since Game 4 of the conference semifinals last season.
This was a series the Clippers once dominated, winning 11 of 12 games between the teams from January 2012 to February 2015. Then came the Clippers' dreaded 19-point collapse in Game 6 of the conference semifinals, part of the five-game winning streak the Rockets built in the series going into Monday.
The first quarter belonged almost exclusively to Redick, who made all four of his three-pointers, including one in which he was fouled by Houston's James Harden. Redick made the free throw to finish the quarter with 15 points. He was just getting started.
"They're a team that thinks they're better than us and rightfully so given the results of the last season and a half," Redick said. "It was important for us to hit first. We wanted to be more aggressive from the start."
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