HOUSTON -- The Clippers put up little fight Wednesday night in losing their seventh in a row, 93-75, as the Rockets clinched the No. 5 playoff spot in the Western Conference and home-court advantage in their first round of the playoffs.
The Clippers, losers of five in a row to the Rockets, missed 14 of their first 21 shots and trailed, 35-17, after the first quarter.
Corey Maggette scored 22 points and Elton Brand added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Clippers, who finished 23-59.
“This was not at all what we expected,” Maggette said. “A lot of injuries hurt this team.”
Luis Scola had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets, who will play Utah in the first round.
The Rockets’ starters rested as the second quarter began and the Clippers went on a 13-6 spurt to cut the lead to 11 points.
Houston’s starting lineup returned and stretched the lead to 58-42 by halftime.
Maggette scored 18 points in 17 first-half minutes for the Clippers.
The Clippers cut the deficit to 10 midway through the third quarter, but Scola scored back-to-back baskets to push Houston’s lead to 66-52. Tracy McGrady took a hard foul from Brand on a drive with 5:06 left, then made two free throws to restore the halftime lead.
Houston led, 80-62, with about eight minutes left when Coach Rick Adelman started pulling his starters.
“This was not at all what I wanted,” said Brand, who missed 74 games because of a surgically repaired left Achilles’ tendon. “I wanted to come back and get some wins, but the other teams wore us down a little bit.”