NBA: Clippers win back-and-forth game over Rockets
Reggie Jackson scored a game-high 26 points and Ivica Zubac recorded a double-double as the Los Angeles Clippers eked out a 99-98 road victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday.
Jackson buried a pullup jumper with 1:25 remaining that gave the Clippers the lead for good. Zubac, who paired 14 points with 15 rebounds, followed by thwarting a driving dunk attempt from Christian Wood with 16.1 seconds remaining. Zubac added six blocks to his ledger.
Jackson added nine rebounds and six assists while Marcus Morris Sr. chipped in 13 points as the Clippers won for the fifth time in six games and moved above .500 for the first time since New Year’s Day.
Garrison Mathews led the Rockets with 17 points while Wood and Alperen Sengun scored 15 apiece. Jae’Sean Tate added 14 points and six rebounds, Jalen Green had 10 points and Dennis Schroder posted a double-double of 11 points and 10 assists while grabbing eight rebounds.
The Clippers scored the opening seven points of the third quarter before Houston responded with a brief rally to reclaim the lead and initiate a dizzying back-and-forth frame. There were eight lead changes and three ties in the third period, with the Clippers’ largest lead of three points coming with their opening burst.
Houston secured its largest lead of the quarter just prior to the buzzer when Sengun turned a Josh Christopher pass into a 3 for an 80-74 lead.
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The Clippers reeled off a 13-3 burst to open the fourth and moved ahead 87-83 on 3-pointers by Luke Kennard and Amir Coffey. The game remained tight through the final moments, with Zubac sealing the win with his defensive play at the rim.
The Rockets shot 7 of 13 from behind the arc in the opening period and made five 3-pointers during a 20-4 run to their first double-digit lead of the game. Eric Gordon, Mathews, Schroder and Kenyon Martin Jr. all converted from deep, with Schroder adding an assist on a Wood dunk during the surge. Martin gave Houston a 28-17 lead with his 3-pointer at the 1:00 mark of the period.
The Clippers rallied in the second behind Isaiah Hartenstein, who had 10 of the Clippers’ 15 bench points by the intermission. The Rockets still led 46-34 when Tate scored on a layup with 3:43 left in the half but the Clippers closed the period on a 12-4 keyed by a second-chance Jackson 3-pointer. Terance Mann scored on transition following his steal and Robert Covington capped the run with a 3-pointer as the Clippers closed to within 50-46 at the break.