A thrilling game seven victory cost Chris Paul the opportunity to play in the opener of the second round. That didn't seem to matter much as Blake Griffin recorded his third triple double, in eight post season games, this season, as the Clippers held off the Rockets for a 117-101 victory, stealing home court. 26 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists on 9-19 shooting and 8-10 from the field is exactly what the Clippers needed missing their floor general. "He's incredible. He gets in the middle of the field and kind of just picks people apart like Tom Brady," Matt Barnes said. "That's like a grown man triple-double right there." Griffin wasn't the only one stepping it up for the visitors, as Austin Rivers stepped in, providing 17 points with four steals, while knocking down 4 threes. Barnes wasn't too shabby, scoring 20 with five steals on 8-11 shooting. JJ chipped in with 17 and solid defense. Getting 54 combined points from your starting guards and small forwards on 19-36 from shooting is pure spectacular. Jamal Crawford chipped in with 21 off the bench as well. DeAndre Jordan notched 10 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished five assists and blocked four shots. What propelled the Clippers, however, was the defensive scheme to contain James Harden, the MVP runner up, while getting into the head of Dwight Howard. Many expected the Clippers to stick Barnes on Harden, which wasn't the case as the Clippers allowed Redick to stick Harden, using shading help from Barnes and Jordan. The shade was in the back of Harden's mind, showing by his hesitance to continually attack the basket, as has come normal from the star guard, who committed nine turnovers.
Howard led the Rockets with 22 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks while connecting on 9-13 from the field. The stats, however, didn't show Jordan getting into Howard's head in the final quarter with constant bodying, out rebounding and energy on the defensive end of the floor. Game two should provide more entertainment between these two stud big men.
Game two is scheduled for Wednesday evening, and Paul is again not expected to play. With a split, at worst, the Clippers may be better off giving Paul another night off, as hamstring injuries are pretty severe and the Clippers have proven they can stay with the Rockets despite the star. On the flip side, I could see Paul playing about a dozen or so minutes to see how the hamstring feels.