Did the Clippers beat the Rockets on Thursday night, or did the Rockets beat the Rockets?

The Thursday night primetime game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets was supposed to be a clash of two of the Western Conference’s elite teams.

Mostly, it turned into threes clashing with the rim.

The Rockets entered the game with a 7-3 record since the trade deadline, the moment they went all-in on small ball. The Clippers rode a five-game winning streak into Houston.

By halftime, it was clear the Rockets had indeed come up small.

The Clippers cruised to their sixth straight win, evening the season series against one of their fiercest Western Conference foes.

So naturally, on Friday, people are trying to figure out why.

Is it because the Clippers have finally hit their stride and transformed into the NBA Finals favorites that many believed them to be entering the regular season?

Quite possibly.

During their six-game winning streak, the Clippers have faced no back-to-backs, meaning their superstar Kawhi Leonard has played in all six games.

As you can see, he’s fresh.

During the streak, Leonard is averaging 24.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.0 steals. He’s also shooting 49.7 percent from the field.

The Klaw is flowing.

And when he’s flowing, the Clippers are flowing.

But outside of Leonard’s big game, if you look at the box score, no other star really stood out. Paul George scored 13 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and dished out 7 assists.

Montrezl Harrell scored 19 off the bench, but Lou Williams only chipped in 5 points. Marcus Morris Sr. added in 11.

The second star actually proved to the LA’s young big man.

It was a team effort by the Clippers and undoubtedly, a big win.

But can an argument be made that the Rockets lost the game as opposed to the Clippers winning it?

Again…quite possibly.

James Harden and Russell Westbrook converted on a combined 15 field goals and scored 45 total points.

Westbrook finished with 29 and Harden finished with 16, less than half his average.

The backcourt entered the game as the highest scoring duo in the NBA with 62.4 points per game.

But the bigger story was the three-point shooting.

Reminds us of another off-shooting game that Houston had.

Harsh, Unc.

More than anything, Thursday night was just a reminder of how this Houston team operates.

In short, it’s still win by the three, die by the three.

The Rockets have made 20 or more threes 11 times this season. They are 10-1 in those games.

When they make 17 or more threes, they are 18-3.

When they make less than 10 threes, they are 1-3. When they make 12 or less, they are 6-9.

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For the Rockets, Thursday represented the worst case scenario for their small ball lineup and raised valid questions about whether their style of play can win deep into the playoffs.

But, let’s give credit to the Clippers. When they have their full collection of players suited up, they are unbeatable.


This is the Clippers team that many expected to see after acquiring Leonard and George in the offseason.

Conversely, this is the Rockets team that we are now used to seeing.