(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers will once again try to put away the Houston Rockets Thursday night when Game 6 takes place at the Staples Center.
The Clippers had a chance to reach the franchise's first Western Conference Finals on Tuesday, but fell in Houston, 124-103, in Game 5 of this conference semifinal matchup.
"I could say we wanted to win really bad, I don't know," said LA's Chris Paul. "We'll look at the film. We sort of throw this one away and go back home and try to close it out there."
Houston played like a team that didn't want its season to end on Tuesday.
James Harden recorded a triple-double, Dwight Howard showed signs of dominating down low and the Rockets did more than compete after 25-point and 33-point losses in Los Angeles.
Harden filled the box score with 26 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, while Howard contributed 20 points and 15 boards.
Trevor Ariza also stepped up with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, Corey Brewer added 15 points, and Terrence Jones and Jason Terry showed signs of life with 12 and 11, respectively.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale scrapped the strategy of regularly sending DeAndre Jordan to the foul line, and the end result was the Clippers shooting 32 fewer free throws than the 63 they attempted in Game 4.
The Clippers missed their first five shots of the fourth quarter and never pulled closer than 12. There was a brief sequence when both coaches teased with "Hack-a-(insert bad free throw shooter here)," but the final five minutes were played without any unnecessary fouling.
Blake Griffin logged his usual production of 30 points and 16 rebounds, and Paul donated 22 points and 10 assists while playing through a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the first two games in Houston.
LA's role players were small by comparison. Jordan and J.J. Redick combined for 22 points after totaling 44 on Sunday, and the bench was outscored 36-24. Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers combined for 13 points on 5-of-21 shooting off LA's bench.
Houston shot 54 percent from the floor, owned a 58-39 rebounding advantage and scored 17 fastbreak points to Los Angeles' three.
"They played harder. They were more focused," Doc Rivers said of the Rockets. "They took us out of our stuff offensively. Give them credit."
The Southwest Division champion Rockets need to get one more win in LA to force a Game 7 in their building. Houston is 1-9 in its last 10 on the road versus the Clippers dating back to 2011.
"We have to win a game there at some point. Might as well be the next one," McHale said.
Game 7, if necessary, would be Sunday in Houston.