Rockets cruise past Clippers, 98-81

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm •  Published: March 30, 2013
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HOUSTON (AP) — Playing without leading scorer James Harden, the Houston Rockets cracked one of the league's best defenses by spreading the ball around.

Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia scored 15 points apiece and Omer Asik added 13 points to lead the Rockets to a 98-81 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

Harden missed his third game of the season with a right ankle sprain, but the Rockets had all the right answers in his absence.

Harden, who played 26 minutes and scored a four-month low seven points in a 103-94 road loss to Memphis on Friday night, ranks fifth in the league at 26.0 points per game.

"We had a lot of guys play well," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "The ball was really moving tonight, and it was good to see that. Everybody was in tune."

Garcia had his best game since being traded to Houston from Sacramento in February, hitting 3 of 7 shots from beyond the arc as a spark off the bench to help Houston snap a two-game losing streak.

"When your best player is out, everybody has got to step up," Garcia said. "That's what we did tonight. We stayed together and got the win."

Lin and Parsons combined for 13 points in the third quarter, when the Rockets outscored Los Angeles 30-13. The rally gave Houston a 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro had seen enough.

Point guard Chris Paul was the only Clippers starter to play in the final quarter, as Del Negro benched Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler and Willie Green in the fourth.

"We were terrible, our effort was terrible, our attitude was terrible and our urgency was terrible," Del Negro said. "They know exactly how I feel, and they didn't say much. That's not what we're about."

Los Angeles was playing its fourth game in five nights, but Del Negro said the schedule was no excuse for Saturday night's display.

For the second consecutive game, the Clippers failed to secure their franchise-record 50th victory. The Clippers tied the 1974-75 team record for wins in a season by beating New Orleans on Wednesday.

Paul led the Clippers with 19 points, seven assists and three steals.

"That was terrible," Paul said. "If I knew why, I'd tell you. But I know this is on us."



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