Another night to forget for Dwight Howard and Rockets in Game 4 loss

The Hack-a-Jordan routine backfires on the Rockets in a 128-95 loss to the Clippers in Game 5

It seemed to be a desperate act by an apparently desperate Houston Rockets team, the taking of the Hack-A-Jordan to heights never seen before in an NBA playoff game.

Houston's whacking away at Clippers center DeAndre Jordan — the 28 free throws he shot in the first half were an NBA record — failed to accomplished the team's goal.

The strategy in Game 4 didn't stop the Rockets from getting run over by the Clippers, 128-95, Sunday night at Staples Center.

Very little has worked for the Rockets in this best-of-seven second-round series and it has left them one game away from elimination in the Western Conference playoffs.

Down 3-1, they must win Game 5 Tuesday night in Houston to stay alive in the playoffs. The Rockets should take note that teams taking a 3-1 lead in any playoff series have won the series 96% of the time, according to the NBA.

"We were just trying to see if we could muck up the game a little bit," Houston Coach Kevin McHale said.

The Rockets started hacking Jordan with 8:20 left in the first, fouling him on seven possessions in the quarter.

By the half, Jordan was 10-for-28 from the free-throw line, breaking by one the record Shaquille O'Neal set in with the Lakers in 2000 for the most free throws in a half.

It took one hour, 24 minutes to play the 24-minute first half because of all of the fouling.

"Personally, I don't like it," Houston's James Harden, who had 21 points, said about the Hack-A-Whomever. "But I guess different coaches have their different philosophies on the game."

For the game, Jordan was just 14 for 34 from the line. But he outplayed his counterpart at center, Dwight Howard.

Jordan had a double-double with 26 points and 17 rebounds.

Howard was not a factor the entire game. Foul trouble was a big problem for him, and his lack of composure was evident.

When he fouled out with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter for fouling Blake Griffin, Howard picked up a technical foul in the process for throwing the ball at an official.

It was his second technical foul of the game, earning Howard an ejection and sending him to the locker room with just seven meaningless points and six rebounds.

When asked why he was ejected from the game, Howard gave a short answer.

"I don't know," he said. "Just get ready for the next game."

Howard had four fouls by halftime, five through the third quarter, his game never getting anywhere.

"It's frustrating," Howard said. "You get emotional by playing in the playoffs. I want to win so bad that it's frustrating at times. But I've just got to try my best to keep my cool."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

Twitter:@BA_Turner

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