The Los Angeles Clippers faced adversity in Game 1 of their series against the Houston Rockets as they forced to play without star point guard Chris Paul.
They overcame these obstacles though as they stormed out to a dominant second half to defeat the Rockets, 117-101.
The Rockets appeared to be headed for a convincing win at the beginning though, as they took a 13-point lead in the second quarter.
It looked like the Rockets would be too much for the Clippers without Paul, but the Clippers rallied later on to cut the Rockets’ lead down to four with a 22-13 run before they went into halftime.
The Clippers eventually caught up to the Rockets in the third quarter, and they took the lead with four minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Rockets home crowd became so quiet that Clippers head coach Doc Rivers taunted them.
The Rockets kept up with the Clippers throughout the third quarter, and they trailed by just one point with five seconds left.
Shooting guard Jamal Crawford made a crucial three-pointer that was shot from way out there, and he banked it in for an amazing shot.
The Clippers closed out their explosive third quarter with two free throws from shooting guard J.J. Redick.
The Rockets went on an 11-6 run to begin the fourth quarter, and they cut the Clippers’ lead to one point once again.
That was it for them though as they melted down and allowed the Clippers to go on a 10-0 run as small forward Matt Barnes made two three-pointers before Crawford capped it off with a three-pointer of his own.
The Clippers were able to cling on for the rest of the quarter, and shooting guard Austin Rivers made the game-sealing three-pointer with 1:15 left on the clock, and the Clippers took a 112-97 lead as a result.
The Rockets defense proved to be a liability once again as they allowed the Clippers to score 71 points in the second half after having some defensive hiccups in the first round against the Dallas Mavericks, such as allowing 128 points in Game 3.
They also allowed the Clippers to make 48.8 percent of their shots despite neutralizing their offense early in the game.
The entire Clippers starting lineup scored at least 10 points while Crawford scored 21 off the bench.
Power forward Blake Griffin stepped up the most in Paul’s absence by posting his second consecutive triple-double, which has not been accomplished in the playoffs since point guard Jason Kidd did it in 2002.
Griffin scored 26 points with 14 rebounds and 13 assists although he found himself in foul trouble as he committed four.
Barnes added 20 points with five rebounds and three assists. Redick and Rivers each scored 17 points, and Rivers added four steals. Center DeAndre Jordan was quiet offensively but scored 10 points while adding 13 rebounds and five assists.
Rockets head coach Kevin McHale employed the “Hack-a-Jordan” strategy on the typically terrible free throw shooter, but he held his own by shooting 6-for-11 from the charity stripe while making his most crucial free throw shots.
For the Rockets, shooting guard James Harden scored 20 points with five rebounds and 12 assists but was also in foul trouble as he committed four while also committing nine turnovers and being held down for most of the game.
Center Dwight Howard scored 22 points with 10 rebounds and five blocks, but Rivers tried out the “Hack-a-Dwight” strategy. The center shot 4-for-9 from the free-throw line and was unable to convert on his important shots.
The Rockets will look to recover from this heartbreaking home loss as they will face the Clippers in Game 2 at home on Wednesday.
It is still unknown how soon Paul will recover from his hamstring injury.