The shooting guard tailored his moves to the beat his teammates provided.
Changing things up certainly worked for the
Rivers and the rest of the bench looked nothing like they had 24 hours earlier, making shots and sustaining defensive intensity. There was also an early scoring spree from
Clippers point guard
Jordan credited Redick's hot start for his clear paths to the basket.
"When J.J.'s shooting the ball like he was," Jordan said, "that kind of opened the floor for us early and then we got rolls. We got pretty much what we wanted."
The Clippers were ahead by 24 points early in the fourth quarter, rendering another Rockets comeback moot. Houston closed to within 11 points with a little more than five minutes to play before a driving layup from Paul and a Redick three-pointer prevented a repeat of the Clippers' epic Game 6 collapse against the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals.
The resounding victory was a happy birthday present to Clippers star Blake Griffin, who turned 27 on Wednesday while sitting out his 37th consecutive game because of quadriceps and hand injuries. It also said something about the resolve of a team that won for a seventh consecutive time on the second night of a back-to-back situation.
"Last year we didn't have that," Rivers said. "I think sometimes we got down and started pointing the finger and questioning everything. I think now we focus on bouncing back and get right back at it."
It was “Weird Beard” night, with fans receiving pink faux beards that were an offbeat take on Rockets shooting guard
But Rockets teammate
"We put a major focus on that," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said of stopping Howard, "and I thought our guys did a great job of game-planning there."
The Clippers built a 72-50 halftime lead by reviving their preferred run-and-fun formula. It started with their defense. They forced 10 Rockets turnovers in the first half and thrived in transition.
There was also a reversal of the Clippers bench's putrid effort the previous night in San Antonio. The reserves combined for 30 points in just the first half, 10 more points than they scored in the entire game against the
Jamal Crawford finished with 14 points off the bench and Austin Rivers and Johnson added 12 apiece to help the Clippers (43-24) improve to 1-1 on their five-game trip.
The night ended in fitting fashion for the Clippers, with one of their own breaking out his best moves in the locker room.
"It's a good thing," Austin Rivers said. "I just can't dance."