(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Clippers will try to take a commanding 2-0 series lead against the Houston Rockets Wednesday night when Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinals series takes place at the Toyota Center.
The Clips won Game 1 in Houston on Monday, less than 48 hours after outlasting the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in an epic Game 7 in LA. Making Monday's victory all the more impressive was that it came without Game 7's hero.
Chris Paul, who hit an off-balance bank shot over the outstretched arm of Tim Duncan to secure the win on Saturday, sat out Game 1 versus Houston with a strained hamstring.
Head coach Doc Rivers ballparks Paul's chances of playing in Game 2 as "50-50."
With Paul out of the lineup on Monday, it was the Clippers other star who propelled them to victory.
Blake Griffin was awesome, recording his third triple-double of the playoffs with a monster performance of 26 points, 14 rebounds and 13 assists in LA's 117-101 victory.
"Blake was sensational," Rivers added. "He stopped looking to score at one point, and I looked at him and told him he had to do everything...and he did."
Jamal Crawford chipped in with 21 points off the bench, Matt Barnes added 20 and J.J. Redick scored all 17 of his points in a second half completely controlled by Los Angeles.
Even Austin Rivers, plugged in as a starter for Paul, netted 17 points for the Clippers.
The Rockets wilted down the stretch even though they had plenty of rest after knocking out the Mavericks last Tuesday. They surrendered 34 points off 24 turnovers and were outscored 71-51 in the second half.
"They kicked our (butt), that's the bottom line," Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said. "There's no excuse. They played better than we did. They wanted it more. We looked and felt a half-a-step slow the whole night."
James Harden, on the same day of learning he finished second to Stephen Curry in MVP voting, checked in with 20 points and 12 assists but turned it over nine times and went nearly 18 minutes without a field goal in the second half.
Dwight Howard also posted a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Trevor Ariza contributed 17 points in a losing effort.
Following Saturday's dog fight, the Clippers predictably started slow. In the first half they shot 2-of-15 from 3-point range and turned the ball over 13 times. The Rockets, though, shot 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) the rest of the half and saw their lead trimmed to 50-46 at the break.
Other than a Howard alley-oop on Houston's first possession, the third quarter was owned by the Clippers, who exploded for 37 points thanks to making two- thirds of their shots (12-of-18) and all six of their 3-point attempts.
The deficit was cut to 89-88 five minutes into the final period, but a 12-0 run took the life out of the Rockets. After Barnes' second 3-pointer during the stretch, DeAndre Jordan swatted a Harden shot that led a fastbreak ending in a corner 3 from Crawford. Redick's runner on the next possession made it a 101-88 game, and the Clippers cruised over the final three minutes.
And things could be looking up for LA, already up 1-0, if Paul returns.
"I hope it doesn't make them let their guard down," Doc Rivers said. "I don't know what it does. It just tells you that you won a game. I don't try to go much past that. We won one game, and we won a game without Chris, and that's great, but we just won one game."
Game 3 will be Friday night at the Staples Center.