Miller, Hayes lead Rockets past Clippers
HOUSTON – Chase Budinger, Kevin Martin and Brad Miller scored 16 points apiece and Chuck Hayes had 12 points and 13 rebounds in the Houston Rockets' 99-78 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.
Goran Dragic had 14 points, seven assists and a career-high 10 rebounds in his first start for the Rockets since he was acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline.
The Rockets played well one night after they were eliminated from playoff contention. They also played without injured starters Kyle Lowry (bone bruise in left foot) and Luis Scola (sore left knee). Dragic started for Lowry and rookie Patrick Patterson replaced Scola.
Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Blake Griffin had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers.
The Rockets took control with a 22-9 spurt in the second quarter that put them up 53-37 at the break. The Clippers went 3 minutes without scoring at the start of the spurt, and shot 33 percent in the quarter (15 of 46).
Houston outrebounded Los Angeles 32-22 in the first half. The Rockets grabbed two offensive rebounds on a possession early in the third period, and Hayes' layup made it 59-42.
Griffin cut inside for a one-handed dunk with 3:16 left in the third quarter, but the Rockets stayed in command. Dragic swished a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:25 remaining for a 74-55 lead.
Los Angeles missed seven of its first eight shots in the final quarter, and Courtney Lee's reverse layup stretched the deficit over 20 points.
Miller sank a 3 with 8:35 left to put the Rockets up 83-57. Miller went 4 for 4 on 3s.
Griffin came out for good with 5:22 remaining and Houston ahead 91-65.
The Rockets tied a season high with 58 rebounds.
The Clippers started the game 5 for 17 from the field, and three of the baskets were dunks by Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. Griffin also missed two one-handed attempts, slamming the ball off the back of the rim both times.
Patterson picked up two fouls in the first five minutes, and Jordan Hill replaced him. Chase Budinger made a 3 and Hill broke free for a dunk to help Houston build the early lead.
Dragic landed hard after he was fouled by Mo Williams on a driving layup with 5:26 left in the first quarter. He limped off the floor during a timeout, but then hit the resulting free throw.
The Rockets went 4 for 7 on 3s in the opening quarter and led 25-18.
Griffin started 3 for 12 from the field, guarded mostly by Hayes, Houston's top interior defender.
NOTES: The Rockets have won 25 of the last 31 meetings. ... Houston has won its last 18 games when holding its opponent under 100 points, the league's longest active streak. ... With only two games left, Houston coach Rick Adelman was uncertain whether Lowry would play again this season. "It's very sore and swollen," Adelman said of Lowry's foot. "We'll just have to take it each day." ... Clippers G Eric Bledsoe was suspended for the game for violating team rules, and coach Vinny Del Negro would not elaborate on what Bledsoe did. ... Clippers C Chris Kaman (sprained right knee) and F Ryan Gomes (sore left knee) sat out. Kaman has missed 49 games this season. ... Griffin has at least 10 rebounds in 62 games this season, tying Elton Brand's franchise record set in 2001-02.