Houston Rockets 124, Clippers 103 (end of regulation)
The Houston Rockets have not lost three games in a row all season, and they weren’t about to change that trend with their season on the line.
They beat the Clippers, 124-103, in Game 5 on Tuesday at Toyota Center, to avoid elimination in the teams’ second-round playoff series, which the Clippers lead 3-2.
The Rockets went on a 20-2 run extending from the end of the second quarter to the top of the third quarter to take a 20-point lead.
The Clippers cut their deficit to 12 points at the top of the fourth quarter, but the Rockets regained control and went up by 20 points with just over 8 minutes left. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers waived the white flag with 3 minutes and 43 seconds left and the Clippers down by 17 points, subbing out the team’s starters.
The Rockets outscored the Clippers in points in the paint, 64-46, and in fast-break points, 17-3. The Rockets outshot the Clippers from the field, 54.1% to 41.8%, and outrebounded them, 58-39.
James Harden, who was battling a cold, led the Rockets with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Trevor Ariza had 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists. And Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds.
The Clippers, who are trying to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time in their 45-year history, were led by Blake Griffin, who had 30 points, though it took him 20 shots to get them. Griffin also had a game-high 16 rebounds. Chris Paul had 22 points and 11 assists. And DeAndre Jordan had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
The Rockets will now face an elimination Game 6 in Los Angeles on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. PDT.
Only eight teams in NBA history have come back from a 3-1 series deficit.
Josh Smith made a three-pointer to give the Rockets a 19-point lead, 99-80, with 8 minutes and 29 seconds left. The Rockets have outscored the Clippers in the fourth quarter, 9-4.
The Clippers have not made a field goal in the fourth quarter.
Neither team made a field goal for the first 2 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter until Clint Capela made a layup with 9 minutes and 27 seconds left to put the Rockets up, 94-78.
Houston Rockets 90, Clippers 76 (end of third quarter)
The Rockets went on a 20-2 extending from the end of the second quarter to the top of the third quarter to take a 20-point lead, 68-48, with 11 minutes and 10 seconds left.
They pushed that advantage to as much as 22 points before the Clippers went on a 14-4 run to cut their deficit to 12 points, 83-71, with 2 minutes and 47 seconds left.
Austin Rivers fell to the floor, writhing in pain after attempting a reverse right-handed layup with nine seconds left. He appeared to land on his hip.
Dwight Howard leads the Rockets with 20 points and 15 rebounds. James Harden has 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Trevor Ariza has 17 points, eight of which he scored in the third quarter, and eight rebounds.
Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Chris Paul has 17 points and eight assists.
The Rockets are outscoring the Clippers in points in the paint, 46-26. The Rockets are up, 81-61, with 5 minutes and 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
Trevor Ariza has scored eight points in the third quarter and has 17 points in the game.
The Rockets opened the third quarter with a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 20 points, 68-48, with 11 minutes and 10 seconds left.
That stretch included a three-pointer from Trevor Ariza and a reverse layup from Jason Smith.
Houston Rockets 63, Clippers 48 (end of second quarter)
The Rockets ended the second quarter with a 15-2 run to take their biggest lead of the game at 15 points after James Harden made a step-back jumper with 0.3 seconds left.
That is the Houston’s biggest lead of the series, in which the Rockets trail the Clippers three-games-to-one.
The Rockets went on a 16-4 run extending from the end of the first quarter to the top of the second to lead by nine points, 31-22, with 11 minutes left.
The Clippers clawed their way out of that hole, cutting it to just two points, 48-46, after Spencer Hawes made a three-pointer with 3 minutes and 36 seconds left.
The Rockets are outshooting the Clippers from the field, 48.9% to 37.7%.
Houston has shot more than three times as many free throws as the Clippers (21 compared to six). The Rockets have made 14 of those shots.
Harden leads the Rockets with 17 points, six rebounds and three assists. Dwight Howard has 15 points, 11 rebounds and only one personal foul.
Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Chris Paul has 10 points and six assists.
DeAndre Jordan picked up his third foul with 9 minutes and 14 seconds left in the second quarter, and was immediately taken out of the game. The Clippers’ center only has four points and five rebounds in 9 minutes and 37 seconds.
The Rockets have 36 points in the paint, while the Clippers are relying on their outside shot. The problem for the Clippers is they’ve missed 15 of their 20 three-point attempts.
DeAndre Jordan picked up his third foul with 9 minutes and 14 seconds left in the second quarter, and was immediately taken out of the game. The Rockets are up, 37-29.
The Rockets have outscored the Clippers in points in the paint, 28-12.
The Rockets opened the second quarter with a quick 4-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game at nine points, 31-22, with 11 minutes left.
The Rockets are on a 16-4 run extending from the end of the first quarter to the top of the second.
Houston Rockets 27, Clippers 22 (end of first quarter)
The Houston Rockets went on a 12-4 run to close the first quarter to take a five-point lead into the second.
That stretch included a 7-0 run by the Rockets, in which they took a four-point lead with just under three-minutes left after Dwight Howard made one-of-two free throws after being tackled to the ground by Glen “Big Baby” Davis.
The Clippers opened the game only making one of their first 10 shots from the field. They were outshot in the first quarter, 40.7% to 30%.
Both teams are shooting terribly from beyond the three-point line, The Clippers have made two of their 11 attempts. The Rockets have made one of their seven shots from beyond the arc.
Blake Griffin leads the Clippers with eight points on three-for-seven shooting and eight rebounds.
Howard leads the Rockets with nine points and eight rebounds. The Rockets’ center picked up his first foul in the first 20 seconds of Game 5 after being in foul trouble the entire game in Game 4.
Blake Griffin was fouled as he attempted a layup with 6 minutes and 28 seconds left in the first quarter. He made both of his free throws to tie the score at 9-9.
It’s surprising it’s such a close game considering the Rockets are outshooting the Clippers from the field, 41.7% to 20%.
Trevor Ariza made a three-pointer to give the Rockets a four-point lead, 6-2, with 8 minutes and 28 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rockets are three-for-eight from the field. The Clippers have only made one of their 10 shots.
Dwight Howard picked up his first foul in the first 20 seconds of Game 5 after being in foul trouble the entire game in Game 4.
The Clippers have a chance to advance to the Western Conference finals for the first time in their 45-year franchise history when they play the Houston Rockets on Tuesday evening at Houston’s Toyota Center in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series.
After winning Game 4 on Sunday, 128-95, the Clippers took a 3-1 lead over the Rockets in the best-of-seven series.
“Obviously I love where we’re at, but the series is not over,” Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said Sunday. “We’ve got to keep playing. We’ve got to finish. They’re not going to just get out of our way.”
In Sunday’s game, the Clippers outscored the Rockets in the second half, 68-41, and led by as many as 37 points in the fourth quarter. It was their second consecutive blowout win over the Rockets, after having won Game 3 on Friday, 124-99.
The Clippers are just the ninth team in NBA history to win two straight playoff games by 25 points or more.
Follow Melissa Rohlin on Twitter @melissarohlin