Teams: Los Angeles Clippers (51-22) @ Houston Rockets (49-22)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Center
Television: NBA TV
- The Rockets have failed to beat the Clippers even once in three tries so far this season, losing by 19, 13 & 8.
- James Harden has been a big reason why Houston has struggled against LA, averaging only 15 points per contest on 34% shooting from the field and 11% from three.
- In Houston’s last loss to LA back in February, the Rockets hung close to the Clippers all night until Darren Collison caught fire in the 4th quarter. He scored 12 of his 19 points in the final frame on 5-7 shooting (2-2 from deep).
Injuries: The big news of the day yesterday was the revelation that Pat Beverley tore the meniscus in his right knee against the 76ers on Thursday night. Whichever procedure Bev chooses, removal of the damage or sewing the entire meniscus back toghether, will decide the length of time he will be out. Removal would presumably allow him to come back in just a few weeks, but can also lead to “Brandon Roy knees”. Sewing it back together, which Russell Westbrook chose to do, would take several months to heal and would cost Bevereley the rest of the season and playoffs.
Dwight Howard will also miss tonight’s game after his surgically repaired ankle caused him discomfort in the second half of the same Sixers game. Howard was dominant in the game despite coming back too early, and one would assume that the ankle just needs more rest.
The Clippers will be without JJ Redick (back) and Danny Granger (hamstring) for the game against Houston.
Special thanks to Fred Katz.
1. Do the Clippers or Rockets finish with a higher seed in the West?
Michael Pina, Red94, (@MichaelVPina): I would’ve selected the Clippers before Patrick Beverley’s injury, so they’re the definitive choice now. They’re better, have just three road games the rest of the way, and…did I mention they’re better?
2. Has Dwight Howard reclaimed the spot as best center in the NBA?
Jovan Buha, (@jovanbuha): Did he ever give it up? Even in a “down” year last season, Howard was probably the game’s best center. Others have challenged his throne, but Joakim Noah (scoring), Marc Gasol (passivity) and Roy Hibbert (rebounding) all have significant flaws that prevent them from boasting as complete of skill sets. Howard’s been the game’s best center for six years now, and I don’t see that changing soon.
3. Is this game a “must-win” for the Rockets?
Mitchell Felker, Red94, (@Mitchell_Red94): I don’t think any game remaining on the Rockets’ schedule would be classified as “must-win”. In fact, I think most Houston fans would prefer to see LA hold onto the No. 3 seed so that the Rockets could avoid a second-round matchup with the Thunder. The Spurs aren’t much of a reprieve, but Houston is 3-0 against San Antonio this year and 0-3 versus OKC. Then again, I could see everyone in the middle of the table “rest” a few games to dodge the Memphis-sized boulder moving up the standings.