The Clippers came away with an impressive road victory Friday night in Houston, toppling the Western Conference leaders 128-118.
Here are five takeaways from the win over the Rockets:
1. As Jawun Evans was dressing after a hard night of extraordinary defensive work against James Harden — perhaps the NBA’s top weapon — teammate Montrezl Harrell poured water on the Clippers’ point guard while he sat in his chair.
Evans was unable to avoid the cold splash, his body shaking as he tried to run away from Harrell with a smile on his face.
“I got to cool you off. I got to cool you off,” Harrell repeated. “Let them know you can lock down on defense.”
Sure, Harden detonated for 51 points against the Clippers. But when the 5-foot-11 Evans took his turn defending the leading candidate for the league’s MVP award, the reserve point guard essentially withstood it all.
Evans harassed Harden full court and didn’t back down from the force that the Rockets’ star brought. Twice, Evans took impressive charges on Harden late in the game.
His teammates noticed, heaping praise on Evans for standing his ground against the dominant Harden.
Even with all the energy it took to play defense, Evans still was able to provide some offense. He tied his career high with 15 points on five-for-13 shooting, making three for seven from three-point range. He also had four assists.
His plus-20 in the plus-minus category was the highest in the game.
2. Perhaps it is time for the Clippers to start a campaign for Lou Williams to be the NBA’s sixth man of the year.
He again put up the kind of numbers to make him a worthy candidate to win the award for the second time in his career.
He scored 32 points against the Rockets, 14 in the all-important fourth quarter. It was the fifth time this season Williams has scored 30-plus points off the bench, the most in the NBA.
Williams also made a career-high seven three-pointers, four in the fourth quarter. He was seven-for-11 shooting from three-point range for the game and four of five in the fourth quarter, when the game was the most tense.
3. A special ending was needed for a special third quarter, and C.J. Williams stepped in and delivered a special shot.
The Clippers had trailed by 15 points in the third, but they clawed back and trailed by one with 24.8 seconds left in the quarter.
They could have been satisfied with the rally they had mounted, but, perhaps sensing they had the Rockets on the ropes, they realized this was not the time to let up.
So Lou Williams found C.J. Williams moving out to the three-point line. C.J. took the pass and knocked down a three-pointer with 0.1 seconds left, giving the Clippers a two-point lead, which they never lost afterward.
They outscored the Rockets 35-20 in the third.
4. The theme for the Clippers was taking care of the basketball.
And they did, turning it over only eight times.
They kept themselves in position to win in the fourth quarter by coughing up the basketball just one time.
5. The Clippers had five players score in double figures, and three of them were off the bench.
Austin Rivers led the way with a career-high 36 points, followed by Lou Williams with his 32.