The Clippers won a wild one after almost losing it, pulling out a 140-132 victory in overtime against the Houston Rockets on Monday night at Staples Center. Here are five takeaways from the game:
1. J.J. Redick made just about everything. He was 11 of 19 overall and a more impressive nine of 12 from three-point range on the way to a career-high 40 points. Most telling might have been his expression after making the three-pointer that put the Clippers up by six points early in the overtime. "It's funny, he misses two and he thinks it's the end of the world and then he makes the last one and he looked around like, 'I hadn't made one all day,'" Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "I mean, if you hadn't seen the game and you saw his reaction you wouldn't think he had made a shot all game and he was nine for 12 from three. I guess that tells you he's a perfectionist." Redick, who has now made 50% of his three-pointers this season, said there have been discussions about him participating in the three-point contest as part of All-Star weekend next month in Toronto. "It's one of those things I don't know what's going on, really," Redick said. "There's a lot of variables, from what I've been told."
2. The Clippers won a game they could have easily have lost. It felt like a repeat of Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals toward the end as the Clippers lost a 14-point lead over the last 4:17 of regulation. "We were running the clock out on offense, we weren't getting back on defense, we didn't match up on defense and we allowed them to get back in the game and then they made shots," Rivers said. "Our execution down the stretch the last couple of plays was poor." Luc Mbah a Moute committed a foul before the Clippers wanted, leading to a pair of free throws by Trevor Ariza with 11 seconds left in regulation, and then the Clippers failed to adequately defend Marcus Thornton on the tying three-pointer, the last of the Rockets' 42 points in the fourth quarter. "You can't play with fire like that," Rivers said. "Typically, you don't win games like that." The Clippers emerged winners after holding the Rockets to 10 points in the overtime. "What I liked about it was everyone was furious going into overtime and we came out, got our composure and played well," Rivers said. "So that's the best sign for your team."
3. DeAndre Jordan looked great in his return from a two-game absence caused by pneumonia. "I was going to try to play [the last two games], but it was tough," Jordan said after getting 16 points to go with 15 rebounds in 41 minutes. "I couldn't stand up, so I knew I wouldn't be very effective. It was pretty bad." Jordan looked lively in scoring the game's first points on a putback dunk, but Rivers, mindful of Jordan's recent illness, subbed him out for Cole Aldrich midway through the first quarter, much earlier than usual. "The thing is," Rivers said of Jordan before the game, "he's an energy player so what I'm going to have to judge is, does he have any energy? And if he does, he'll keep playing." He kept playing.
4. The three-pointer continues to be extra valuable to the Clippers. They made a franchise-record 22 against the Rockets, with Redick (nine) and Paul (five) leading the way. Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson added three apiece. "We did have a lot of good looks and we made them," Rivers said. "But you can show up in a gym sometimes without defense and not make that many. We have guys who can make threes; we made them tonight." Rockets Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said Jordan's presence in the interior opened up the outside looks for the Clippers. "With the threat of DeAndre at the rim, you're worried about the lob all the time," Bickerstaff said. "We were just late, we were trying to protect the basket and so we were late getting out to them."
5. Blake Griffin appears doubtful to make his return against Cleveland on Thursday. "Blake is looking a lot better," Rivers said. "I personally doubt it, but I know he wants to. He's going to give it a try, but I personally doubt he makes that game." I think there's a better chance now he'll play on the road trip, I just can't tell you when." The Clippers will have four games left on the trip after playing the Cavaliers and have fared just fine without the All-Star power forward, winning nine of 10 games since Griffin was diagnosed with a partially torn left quadriceps tendon.