Crawford scores 30 as Clips beat Rockets 117-109
HOUSTON (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers rarely lose when Jamal Crawford leads the team in scoring.
Crawford insisted it has very little to do with him after his latest such game — one the Clippers played without Chris Paul.
Crawford scored a season-high 30 points, including 12 straight to start the fourth quarter, and the Clippers looked just fine without Paul in a 117-109 win over the struggling Houston Rockets on Tuesday night.
The Clippers won their second game in a row despite missing their star point guard, who is day to day with a bruised right kneecap.
Los Angeles used a big third quarter to take the lead, and Crawford extended the advantage to 20 by outscoring Houston 12-7 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Clippers improved to 11-1 this season when the 12-year veteran Crawford leads the team in scoring. Crawford seemed surprised when he learned of that statistic.
"It's everybody honestly," he said. "I've got the easy job just scoring, but Grant, Blake, all those guys put me in a position to score ... I just have to make the shots, they're doing all the hard work."
James Harden had 23 points for the Rockets, whose four-game losing streak is a season worst.
Los Angeles opened the second half with a 10-0 run to take a 68-59 lead with about nine minutes left in the third quarter. Eric Bledsoe, starting in place of Paul, scored the last five points in that span, ending it with a 3-pointer. Houston missed four shots and had a turnover as the Clippers built their lead.
"Willie did a great job for us in the third, and then Jamal obviously got going in the fourth to take over the game," Los Angeles coach Vinny Del Negro said.
The Rockets finally found some offense when Chandler Parsons scored their first points of the second half on a layup with 8½ minutes left in the third quarter. But the Clippers didn't let up, and Willie Green soon got hot. He scored eight points in less than a minute thanks in part to two turnovers by Omer Asik, extending the lead to 81-65.
His last three points in that span came when he was fouled on a two-handed dunk, bringing the entire Los Angeles bench to its feet, and then made the free throw.
Grant Hill was called for a foul on Toney Douglas late in the third quarter and Blake Griffin received a technical after jawing with officials following the call. Griffin was immediately pulled from the game and received an earful from coach Del Negro when he got to the bench.
"I think we just have to control ourselves a little bit more," Del Negro said. "We can't be wasting points. We got a few technicals tonight. I got one on a difficult call against us. We just have to do a better job."
Los Angeles entered the fourth quarter leading 90-77 after shooting 60 percent to just 38.9 percent by the Rockets in the third.
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