Rockets at Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are just beginning to win consistently without former star point guard Chris Paul, just in time to welcome him back. Paul, who is carrying the Houston Rockets in the absence of James Harden, will make his first appearance in Los Angeles since being traded over the summer when the Rockets visit on Monday.
Paul, who expects to be booed by his former home fans, is averaging 28.7 points in three straight wins and is embracing Houston’s offensive philosophy by hoisting a career-high 6.8 3-point attempts on the season and connecting at 38 percent. “Tomorrow is not about me,” Paul, who referred to Los Angeles as “home” told reporters after practice on Sunday. “It’s about us and doing what we came out here to do.” The Clippers are ravaged by injuries and won’t have Paul’s former teammates DeAndre Jordan (ankle) or Austin Rivers (Achilles) available, but Blake Griffin should be on the court trying to lead his team to a fifth consecutive win. Griffin, who missed two games last week recovering from a concussion, was a combined 8-of-22 from the field in two games since his return but totaled 16 rebounds and 15 assists in back-to-back triumphs over the Sacramento Kings.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (30-11): Harden, who leads the NBA in scoring (32.3 points) and ranks third in assists (9.1), is expected to sit out his seventh straight game on Monday but could return later in the week, possibly in time for a showdown with the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. “It could be Thursday or Saturday, I don’t know,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters of Harden’s potential return. “He’s got to get better. We’ll see. Whenever he’s ready.” The Rockets are replacing part of Harden’s scoring load with veteran shooting guard Gerald Green, who is averaging 19.5 points over the last six games.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (21-21): Los Angeles’ list of injuries includes the point guard that came over from Houston to replace Paul, Patrick Beverley (knee), but it’s another player acquired in that deal that is carrying the team’s scoring load. Veteran sixth man Lou Williams averaged 14.9 points in 23 games with Houston last season and began 2017-18 as the sixth man for the Clippers before injuries forced him into the starting lineup, and he is thriving while averaging 26.7 points in 11 starts. Williams is putting up an average of 35 points during the four-game winning streak and knocked down at least four 3-pointers in each of those four contests.
1. Rockets PF Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) sat out the last 15 games but practiced on Sunday and could return Monday.
2. Clippers PF Montrezl Harrell, who also came over in the Paul trade, is averaging 18.7 points on 25-of-37 shooting over the last three games.
3. Los Angeles earned a 128-118 win at Houston on Dec. 22 behind 32 points from Williams while Paul sat out with an adductor injury.