- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- When Doc Rivers sat on the scorer’s table before the Los Angeles Clippers played the Houston Rockets on Saturday, he shrugged his shoulders when asked about the Rockets being without Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverley.
“We’re missing guys, too,” Rivers said.
Griffin left with 5:48 left in the first quarter with back spasms and did not return. Then Davis was sent back to the locker room for disciplinary reasons with 10:21 left in the second quarter.
None of it seemed to faze the Clippers. They came back from 15 points down to beat the Houston Rockets 118-107 and sweep the season series.
How it happened: The Clippers were trailing by 15 points in the second quarter when Rivers made the decision to remove Davis from the game. After he sent him back to the locker room, the Clippers went on a 34-18 run to take a 61-58 lead into the half and never looked back, opening up a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter.
What it means: The Clippers have swept the season series against the Rockets and now hold a two-game lead on them in the standings and also own the tiebreaker. After starting their five-game road trip with a lackluster loss in New Orleans, the Clippers have responded by coming back from double-digit deficits on the road in Dallas and Houston to beat two playoff-caliber teams.
Hits: With Griffin out, Chris Paul was far more aggressive against the Rockets than he has been in a while. He finished with 30 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. DeAndre Jordan had 20 points and 12 rebounds and hit some big free throws down the stretch, when the Rockets sent him to the foul line intentionally. Matt Barnes had 15 points and 10 rebounds, including a late 3-pointer to put the game away.
Misses: On a night when the Clippers lost Griffin and needed Davis, “Big Baby” let the team down with behavior that led to Rivers sending him back to the locker room. He was signed primarily for his championship experience and time with Rivers; neither of those is worth a pouting player sitting in the locker room while you’re trying to mount a comeback on the road.
Stat of the game: The Clippers hit 12-of-41 from beyond the arc. The Clippers are now 31-1 this season when making at least nine 3-pointers.
Up next: The Clippers travel to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday. The Clippers have defeated Minnesota in their previous three meetings this season and beat the Wolves 120-116 in overtime during their last meeting in Minneapolis on Dec. 22.