The Clippers started their two game Texas road trip in Houston on Wednesday night. Coming off a dramatic win on Monday also against the Rockets, the Clippers were able to start a mini winning streak. Paul George and, surprise, Moses Brown were the stories of the night, but check out our full recap of the game below:
The Clippers came out hot to start the game, putting up 34 points in the first quarter to the Rockets’ 24. At one point, the Clippers had an 18 point lead, but the Rockets’ bench was able to outscore the Clippers’ reserves in the last four minutes of the quarter.
The Rockets continued their steady comeback push in the second quarter, outscoring the Clippers 29-22. Nonetheless, the Clippers were able to take a three point lead into the half thanks to a four-point play by Nic Batum. Through two quarters, Marcus Morris, Sr. had 18 points on 7/10 shooting (3/6 from three) and Paul George added 10. The bench, however, continued to get outscored, with each Clipper reserve posting a negative plus-minus, largely because they shot 5/13 from the field.
The Clippers would go on to win the last two quarter by five total points. Notably, with Ivica Zubac in foul trouble (4 fouls in the first half), Ty Lue opted to play Moses Brown to start the third quarter. He went on to play 9:36 of the frame—he finished the game with 12 minutes—and brought an interesting dynamic as another big body who could run with John Wall in transition. In the third, he had 11 points on 5/7 shooting and three rebounds, but he was 1/3 from the free throw line and had three fouls. On balance, he helped the Clippers win this game, though this was not exactly against elite NBA talent.
The real star of the second half was, of course, Paul George. George finished the game with 28 points (18 second half points), four rebounds, four assists, and a steal on 10/20 shooting from the field (3/8 from three) in 37 minutes. It turns out that the 20 FGA threshold is pretty important for the Clippers, as they are 3-0 when he shoots it at least 20 times.
More Moses Brown Minutes?: The small-ball or not-to-small-ball debate has been raging through Clippers Nation so far this year. On one hand, the Clippers have five good “big” wings (Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, Nic Batum, and Robert Covington), and the Clippers have had success going “small” in the past. On the other hand, however, the Clippers have been going too small, playing four guards with one “big” wing at the center position. It seems pretty clear that this formula is not tenable, especially when opposing teams can put out a “true” back up center.
With Zubac in foul trouble tonight—and Kawhi and Covington out—Moses Brown got the nod. Whether or not Brown is a long-term solution to the backup center position is still an open question, even after a solid outing in Houston. First, as Ty Lue said post game, there are already not enough minutes to go around. Second, Moses will have to replicate this performance a few times before he can earn the trust he failed to earn in the preseason.
Point Guard Play: Reggie Jackson and John Wall were a combined 7/17 from the field (0/7 from three) and continued to take questionable shots. Reggie got the lion’s share of minutes (33), whereas John Wall played just 15. The Clippers’ schedule starts to get tougher as we work through the month, so at least one of them will have to step it up on a more consistent basis soon.
That about does it for this recap of the Clippers’ game against the Rockets. As always, check out The Lob The Jam The Podcast and Clips ‘N Dip for analysis throughout the week, and follow us on Twitter to watch the game with us!