Although the Los Angeles Clippers were unable to take both games in Houston, they proved more than capable of succeeding in this series without Chris Paul.
That is, if Blake Griffin can stay at the top of his game.
Possibly still missing their All-Star point guard, the Clippers will look to keep Griffin involved from start-to-finish against the Rockets on Friday night when the series moves to Los Angeles for Game 3.
Paul worked out on the court Thursday, a good sign in his recovery from a strained hamstring suffered in Saturday’s Game 7 win over San Antonio, but his status for this game remains unknown. Coach Doc Rivers said “everything is going well,” but it will come down to the “eye and feel test” in deciding whether Paul can play after missing the first two games of this series.
Even without Paul’s help, Griffin excelled through six quarters against Houston. He had 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in a 117-101 victory Monday, then tallied 26 points in the first half Wednesday to help the Clippers take a 65-56 lead at the break.
The Rockets, however, adjusted in the final two quarters of Game 2, limiting Griffin to eight points as they overcame a 13-point deficit to win 115-109. Griffin grabbed 15 rebounds but had only four assists.
“Front-and-back double team. I wouldn’t say they spaced it out. They clogged it up, to be honest,” Griffin said of Houston’s defensive tactics. “We have to do a better job of reading that and reacting off of it. I have to do a better job of moving off the ball to get open.
“Definitely feels like we let one get away. We came here to win two, but we’re going back with home court now. Got to protect home court.”