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Practice makes near-perfect for Clippers

Clippers roll over Rockets, 117-89, behind Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.

January 04, 2012|By Broderick Turner
  • Clippers point guard Chris Paul works against Rockets' Luis Scola, No. 4, Chase Budinger, No. 10, and Goran Dragic during a game at Staples Center on Jan. 4.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul works against Rockets' Luis Scola,… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Perhaps the two days of practice this week helped the Clippers develop more chemistry.

It sure looked that way during their 117-89 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Clippers were so sharp that they were able to rest their starters in the fourth quarter.

"The more time we spend together, the more we can work out some of the kinks and some of the issues and get guys more familiar with foot position," Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "This was a good win for us tonight."

When Chris Paul sat down at the end of the third, he had a double-double with 20 points, on nine-for-14 shooting, and 10 assists.

By the time Blake Griffin took his seat in the third, he was close to a double-double with 22 points, on 10-for-15 shooting, and nine rebounds.

The two days off since the Clippers played the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night also gave Chauncey Billups time to heal.

He had missed the last two games because of a sore right hamstring, but Billups played 22 minutes against the Rockets and scored 13 points.

"The practice, especially when you've got moving pieces on the team, new guys, very important guys, practice is a big deal," Billups said. "This is going to be a long season as far as games are concerned. We've been fortunate to have a lot of practice time."

The Clippers shot the ball well, making 57.3% of their shots in building a 30-point lead.

"We have so many weapons and when guys are hitting shots, it's tough," Griffin said. "Chauncey, Caron [Butler], Chris, D.J. [DeAndre Jordan] at the rim. It's hard to guard all those things."

As the Clippers began to build their lead in the third quarter, they also gave the fans exactly what they wanted — a taste of Lob City.

It began with Paul throwing a lob to Jordan for a right-handed dunk. Jordan is left-handed, making the play that much more impressive.

Paul went to work again, throwing a lob that Griffin took flight to catch before throwing down a two-handed dunk, drawing more cheers from the fans.

The Clippers had such control of the game that everyone played, including rookies Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins and new-comer Solomon Jones, who signed a free-agent contract Tuesday.

The Clippers came out on fire, scoring a season-high 41 points in the first quarter.

They made 68% (17 of 25) of their field goals in that first 12 minutes. They had 12 assists in the quarter, 30 for the game.

Paul led the way in the first, scoring 11 points on five-for-six shooting and handing out six assists.

By the end of the first half, the Clippers had not let up much, opening a 12-point lead.

They shot 67.5% from the field in the first 24 minutes, either because they still were hot or the Rockets gave little defensive resistance.

"We looked a little more in sync offensively out there," Billups said. "The spacing was a lot better. Defensively, guys talked a lot, things that we've been going over the last two days in practice."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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