Reporting from Houston — For the Clippers, there was exasperation and frustration, but finally there was relief.
Chris Paul did not get a shot off at the end of regulation, had an uncharacteristic turnover in overtime and missed a key free throw in the extra period, but the Clippers came away with a 105-103 victory over the Houston Rockets.
Paul, who had a double-double with 28 points and 10 assists, walked off the Toyota Center court with Blake Griffin, each with looks of relief for having escaped a game they won only after Kevin Martin missed a three-point shot.
"Sometimes you're like, 'Man, we got this one,' " Paul said. "Now, that one is out the window. We start back tomorrow."
The victory allowed the Clippers to improve to 2-1 on this six-game trip that continues Monday night against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that has defeated the Clippers twice this season.
"I think for me personally, I just thought about the whole road trip as a whole," Paul said. "We've got six games, tough venues, tough games all of them. So to start off 2-1 is cool. One and two would have been tough going into Minnesota."
Griffin had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four turnovers against Houston, Randy Foye scored 15 points and Caron Butler had 14.
The Clippers won because "we came through defensively," Paul said.
Griffin had two steals in overtime, one with 30.9 seconds left and the Clippers holding a 104-103 lead.
But Paul lost the ball on the Clippers' next possession, opening the door for the Rockets, forcing the Clippers to dig deep on defense again.
Martin, who had 25 points, missed a 22-foot jumper.
Paul eventually was fouled.
But he made only one of two free throws for a 105-103 lead with 4.9 seconds left.
Now the Clippers had to get one last stop on defense.
They did, but only after Martin missed a three-point shot that would have won the game for Houston. Samuel Dalembert got the rebound, but his shot wasn't close.
"If he [Martin] hits that three right there," Paul said, "I'm throwing up probably right now."
Paul had scored eight of the Clippers' 20 points in the fourth quarter and had been given the opportunity to win the game, which was tied at 97-97. However, he lost control of the ball on his dribble.
Paul regained control and put the ball in the net, but the shot was ruled no good because time had expired, sending the game into overtime.
"The only thing I kept thinking about after regulation was who at home is watching NBA 'League Pass' and calling me a dummy," Paul said. "That's what I do when I watch games and I see a guy doesn't even get a shot up at the end of regulation.
"I'm the guy who is at home that's like, 'This dummy didn't even get a shot off.' I was calling myself a dummy on the bench. But in the end, a win is a win."