Dwight Howard returned for the first time to Staples Center, where the Los Angeles Clippers ran his Houston Rockets off the floor with their most points in four years.
J.J. Redick scored 19 of his 26 points in the first half to lead seven players in double figures, and Los Angeles beat Houston 137-118 Monday night, handing the Rockets their first loss of the season.
”We were making everything,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. ”They were in foul trouble. A lot of things went right.”
It was the Clippers’ highest-scoring game since having 140 against the Knicks on March 25, 2009.
”A lot of times I just come out with energy and that energy is not matched by the guy guarding me,” Redick said.
Chris Paul added 23 points and 17 assists, Jamal Crawford had 21 points, and Blake Griffin scored 18 for the Clippers, who led the entire game and tied a franchise record with 78 points in the first half.
”Offense is pretty good,” Paul said. ”It’s all about our pace. We’re up-tempo. If a team misses, we’re running.”
Howard finished with 13 points and nine rebounds after getting roundly booed in his first game in Los Angeles since leaving the Lakers and signing with Houston in the NBA’s biggest free agent move last summer.
”They can boo me a million times. I’ll still play,” he said.
Reflecting on his one up-and-down season with the Lakers, Howard said, ”I just allowed what people said to affect how I played. But I can’t do that. I mean, I’m better than that.”
Jared Dudley added 15 points and DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers, who have won five in a row against Houston at home and three straight overall after losing their season opener to the Lakers.
”They had 15 3s and a ton of paint points, so they had the best of both worlds,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said.
Coming off a sprained left ankle, Omri Casspi led seven Houston players in double figures with 19 points off the bench. James Harden added 15 points, and Chandler Parsons had 14, along with Jeremy Lin and Francisco Garcia. The Rockets fell to 3-1.
The Clippers turned the final seven minutes into Lob City, with Paul orchestrating back-to-back, alley-oop passes to Jordan and Griffin that ended in dunks. They were part of a 15-5 run that stretched the Clippers’ lead to 129-108.
The Rockets controlled the start of the fourth, but got no closer than nine points. That was as close as they got four times in the third.
”They just did whatever they wanted,” McHale said. ”We just couldn’t stop them.”
The Clippers led 78-66 at halftime. They shot 59 percent from the floor and made 19 of 22 free throws. Redick shot 6 of 9 and made all six of his free throws in the half.
”Guy can shoot the basketball. It’s unbelievable,” Griffin said. ”The best part of playing with him is he never stops moving. That’s how he gets his shots, he really works for them.”
Howard picked up three fouls in the first quarter. Griffin also had three fouls by halftime, including two in an 11-second span just before the break.
Notes: The Clippers set a franchise record for 3-point attempts in a game with 38. … The Clippers’ 78 points in the first half tied the franchise record set on March 13, 1998, against Toronto. … Howard will face the Lakers for the first time on Thursday in Houston. ”There’s no need to talk about what the Lakers could have done. I made my decision and I’m living with it,” he said. ”I’m happy where I’m at, I’m in a great place. Everybody should move forward. It’s over with.”