Sloppy Rockets drop Game 1 against Clippers

The Rockets lost a lot more than just Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. They lost home court advantage and any chance to set the tone for a great series. The Clippers took all of that away, and they did it without Chris Paul. The All-Star sat out to rest his strained hamstring.

Rockets Coach Kevin McHale said, "We didn't play with much composure all night. We were just sloppy. They played harder than we did. They wanted it more." He pointed to 34 points for the Clippers off of Rockets' turnovers.

After a fast start from the Rockets, the Clippers dominated down the stretch in a 117-101 win at Toyota Center. Six Clippers scored in double figures, led by Blake Griffin with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists. Dwight Howard led the Rockets with 22. James Harden struggled to make an impact with 20 points. The Rockets were outscored by 22 points when Harden was on the court.

McHale added, "We were a half step slow the whole game. They kicked our (butts). We looked like we were stuck in the mud."

Los Angeles took command with a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter, turning a 1 point game into a rout. Houston had no answer down the stretch when LA set its defense in the half court. Afterwards Doc Rivers admitted "that first half could have gotten away from us." But the Clippers whittled away at the Rockets 13 point lead to stay close at the half.

Rivers described how his team played so well without Paul, "Our guys had a ton of confidence."

Asked about Chris Paul's status for Wednesday night's game two Rivers said, "If he's healthy, he'll play. If he's not, he won't." null
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