The Los Angeles Clippers were unable to take a 2-0 series lead as the Houston Rockets evened it out on the road, but the Clippers will have an opportunity to take back control of the series at home.
The Rockets took a big lead in the first quarter, but the Clippers exploded in the second quarter with 41 points. The Rockets came storming back in the third quarter after the Clippers took a 13-point lead.
Rockets shooting guard James Harden took over in the fourth quarter and stormed out to a 16-point output to demonstrate why he was a serious MVP candidate.
The Rockets won the game, 115-109, as Harden scored 32 points with seven assists. Center Dwight Howard added 24 points on 8-of-11 shooting with 16 rebounds.
For the Clippers, power forward Blake Griffin carried the load once again in the absence of point guard Chris Paul.
Griffin scored 34 points with 15 rebounds while center DeAndre Jordan added 16 points with 12 rebounds.
Griffin was not able to continue his dominance in the second half of Game 2 as he was held to eight points in that span, and he only had four assists after posting his second consecutive triple-double in Game 1.
It is still unknown whether Paul will play in Game 3, but it looks unlikely at the moment. The Clippers will need bounceback performances from their guards, who struggled in Game 2.
They shot 4-for-22 from the three-point line, and Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick had forgettable performances. Crawford shot 6-for-22 while Redick shot 3-for-10. While they respectively scored 19 and 12 points, their poor shooting ultimately cost the Clippers.
If they are unable to pick up the slack for Paul like they did in Game 1, this series will shift the momentum in the Rockets’ favor.
Harden will have to put up a similar performance in Game 3 as he did in Game 2 since the Rockets have struggled with their defense, allowing at least 109 points in each of their games against the Clippers.
The Rockets will also need solid performances from forwards Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones. Ariza was underwhelming from an offensive standpoint as he shot 4-for-12 from the field, but he still finished with 15 points while snagging 13 rebounds.
Jones was also quiet as he was held to 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, but he added eight rebounds.
Howard has been a reliable scorer and rebounder for the Rockets in the last two games, but his most glaring weakness remains obvious.
He continues to be one of the worst free throw shooters in the NBA, and his 40 percent shooting from the charity stripe will undoubtedly cause the Clippers to use the “Hack-a-Dwight” strategy.
Jordan also has a major weakness at the free-throw line, but he held his own in Game 2 and was not fouled often as he shot 4-for-6 after shooting 6-for-11 in Game 1.
Despite Howard’s struggles at the free-throw line, the Rockets excelled at drawing fouls as they shot a whopping 64 free throws.
Harden made all 15 of his while Howard was forced to take 21 shots.
The Clippers will have difficulty in defending the Rockets’ high-octane offense, but they have a prolific offense of their own and will be determined to bounce back in front of their home crowd.
Prediction: Clippers 107, Rockets 102