EditorsNote: Tweaks in 2nd, 3rd grafs
Montrezl Harrell scored a career-high 30 points, Lou Williams chipped in 23 and the visiting Los Angeles Clippers rolled to a 133-113 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.
The Clippers, whose lackluster start offensively was covered by their stellar defense, later turned it on against the injury-depleted Rockets, who were without starters James Harden and James Ennis and remained winless at home. Houston welcomed back guard Chris Paul from suspension, but he shot 3 for 13 and had five turnovers while scoring 12 points in 34 minutes.
Clinging to a 31-30 lead entering the second quarter, the Clippers shot 72.2 percent that period and extended to a 14-point lead before Carmelo Anthony and PJ Tucker combined for the final five points of the half. Prior to that momentary salvaging, the Rockets were gashed defensively, primarily by Williams, who scored 19 points on just seven shots in the half.
Harrell, shipped to Los Angeles along with Williams by the Rockets in the blockbuster trade that landed Paul, ran roughshod on the interior throughout. He combined with Danilo Gallinari to post 26 points prior to the intermission, including 7-for-8 shooting from the free-throw line.
The Clippers not only shot 13 of 18 from the floor in the second quarter, they were 10 of 11 at the line. The Rockets’ woeful shooting only worsened matters, with Houston missing 14 of 21 3-pointers in the first half while going 20 of 52 from the floor overall. Anthony posted 11 first-quarter points in his first start but cooled off by the break, hitting 1 of 5 attempts in the second.
The Rockets mounted one final push midway through the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 81-78 before Eric Gordon missed a difficult reverse layup. The Clippers closed that period with a 15-5 run, then held the Rockets scoreless until Anthony made a free throw at the 8:41 mark of the fourth. By then, the deficit was 107-83, and the Clippers were scoring with alarming ease.
The Clippers shot 54.4 percent overall, sinking 12 of 23 3-pointers and 35 of 38 free throws.
Anthony paced the Rockets with a season-high 24 points.
—Field Level Media