Clippers 106, Rockets 103
LOS ANGELES (AP)
The Clippers got their leading scorer back, and he didn't miss a beat.
Gordon shot 8 for 18 in 35 minutes after missing 18 games because of a sprained right wrist that had a small fracture in it. He was averaging 24.1 points when he was injured in a victory against Golden State on Jan. 22 at Staples Center.
''I just started shooting the ball about a week ago, but I've been staying in shape. That's all I've been doing,'' Gordon said. ''I've been running every day. The toughest part was just sitting there, knowing that I could have been out there helping the team in some way. It was good to finally come back and help the guys get a win.''
Gordon, who is 6 feet 3, brought the sellout crowd of 19,060 to its feet when he went as high as he could to block a 3-pointer by Courtney Lee in front of the Clippers' bench in the third quarter. Gordon's block came 24 seconds after point guard Mo Williams' 21-footer put Los Angeles ahead 70-69.
Chris Kaman scored 10 of his 21 points off the bench in the fourth quarter and had nine rebounds. Blake Griffin had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and DeAndre Jordan had 16 rebounds along with eight points.
Williams and forward Jamario Moon played their first home game for the Clippers following a trade last week that sent Baron Davis to Cleveland. Williams finished with 17 points and 11 assists while teaming up with Gordon in the backcourt.
Kaman, relegated to a backup role because of a bruised left ankle that sidelined him for 45 games - and the emergence of Jordan - is trying to salvage something out of another forgettable season. He and his teammates can only imagine where they would be had everyone stayed healthy.
''It doesn't matter because it didn't happen,'' Kaman said. ''I can't control any of that stuff, so I try not to dwell on it. ''I was out three months, Eric was out a month and a half, and you can't change those events. We traded Baron, so we've just got to build our chemistry with the new guys we have - and now with myself and Eric healthy, we'll see how it goes. We have 20 games left, and we just want to show what we can do going into next season.''
Kyle Lowry led Houston with 24 points and 11 assists, and Lee added 18 points off the bench. But the Rockets failed to get over the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The Rockets, whose 0-5 start was their worst since the 1999-00 season, have had two other chances to crack the .500 barrier. But they lost at home to Miami on Dec. 29 and dropped one at Portland two games later.
''The third quarter, I thought, really hurt us,'' coach Rick Adelman said. ''We couldn't make a shot and it gave them some life. They had three big guys that really hurt us. In the second half, they hurt us on the boards and they hurt us around the basket.''
The loss snapped Houston's season-high five-game winning streak. The Rockets were trailing by 11 when Goran Dragic ignited a 13-2 run with a 3-pointer and Luis Scola capped it with a pair of free throws that tied the score at 91 with 4:57 to play. But the Clippers regained the lead for good 11 seconds later on a 3-pointer by Gordon.
Williams made six of seven free throws in the final 1:09 to ice it, despite 3-pointers by Lowry and Chase Budinger in the frantic final 22 seconds. Houston had one last gasp, but Budinger missed another 3-point attempt at the final horn.
''You could tell a lot of our shots were short tonight because we've played four games in five nights. But we battled,'' Budinger said. ''We fought back in the fourth quarter. They gave us a shot to win the game, but it just didn't fall.''
One night after shooting 58 percent from the field in a 103-87 win at Portland, the Rockets shot just 39.7 percent through the first three quarters against the Clippers and entered the fourth trailing 75-69. Kaman made a couple of short hook shots, a driving dunk and a 16-footer to help extend the margin to 85-75 with 8:52 remaining.
Adelman had to pull two of his starters before the game was 5 minutes old, as Kevin Martin and center Chuck Hayes each picked up two fouls. Martin, who came in averaging a team-high 23.2 points, finished with 12 points in 30 minutes.
NOTES: Kaman needs one more rebound to join Bob McAdoo, Swen Nater, Loy Vaught and Elton Brand as the only players in franchise history with 4,000. ... Griffin, selected the top rookie in the Western Conference for the fourth straight month Monday, is trying to join Chris Paul (2005-06) as the only players to sweep the award in either conference.