Rockets-Clippers Preview

BY foxsports • January 18, 2016

Blake Griffin is already out for the Los Angeles Clippers, and another game missed by DeAndre Jordan could result in another loss.

That's because Dwight Howard has been dominant in two wins over the Clippers this season, and will likely be relishing the chance to face a depleted frontcourt for the visiting Houston Rockets on Monday night.

Los Angeles (26-14) had its 10-game win streak end with Saturday's 110-103 home defeat to Sacramento. The Clippers have played the last 10 games without Griffin, who is out with a partially torn left quadriceps tendon and may return Thursday to face LeBron James and Cleveland.

Cole Aldrich has turned in consecutive 19-point efforts - the highest two-game total of his career - starting in place of Jordan, who has missed two games due to pneumonia.

"I think through this stretch we've improved as a basketball team," coach Doc Rivers said. "And I think when D.J. comes back first and then Blake, we're going to be a much better team because of all this. We've still got a long way to go and neither one of them are back yet."

Jordan is questionable for Monday's matchup with Howard, with the centers ranked first and second in field-goal percentage at 71.5 and 61.0, respectively. They are also known for their awful foul shooting, with Jordan second-worst in the NBA at 41.2 percent and Howard fourth-worst at 53.4. Both could be sent to the line intentionally due to those woes.

Howard, who is averaging 18.9 points and 13.4 boards during a stretch of nine straight double-doubles, has flexed his muscles by amassing 42 points and 34 rebounds to help Houston (22-20) capture both meetings this season. The Rockets won't miss the sight of Griffin, who totaled 57 points and 19 boards.

Rivers said there's no obvious adjustments he can make against Howard if Jordan joins Griffin in street clothes. His club shot a season-high 39 3-pointers Saturday.

"We just keep doing what we doing," Rivers said. "We just have to play the way we have to play without those guys. We'll be fine, we'll be ready for sure."

Houston has won five straight overall over Los Angeles, including the final three games of last year's Western Conference semifinal series which it captured in seven. That included a memorable Game 6 victory at Staples Center in which the Rockets outscored the Clippers 40-15 in the fourth quarter of a 119-107 victory.

James Harden scored 46 and Howard had 20 and 20 rebounds in a 109-105 road win Nov. 7 over the Clippers, who played without Chris Paul. The Rockets built a 21-point lead after one quarter in a 107-97 home win over Los Angeles on Dec. 19.

Houston did not have a starter log more than Harden's 27 minutes in Sunday's 112-95 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Harden scored 31 and Howard and Clint Capela each had 14 as the Rockets scored a season-high 70 points in the paint in their sixth win in seven games.

The Rockets had fewer than 50 points in the paint in their previous 11 games.

"We attacked the basket," Howard said. "When we attack the basket, you make things happen. We've gotta continue to do a better job of attacking and putting teams on their heels."

Starting guard Patrick Beverley, who sat out with a sprained left ankle, could return Monday.