Griffin scores 30 to lead L.A. Clippers to third straight win, 102-85 over Houston Rockets

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HOUSTON — Near the end of a seven-game road trip, there was some concern that the Los Angeles Clippers might be running out of gas.

Turns out that there was no need to worry.

Blake Griffin had 30 points and 10 rebounds and Jamal Crawford added 21 points to help the Clippers coast to a 102-85 win over the injury-depleted Houston Rockets on Friday night.

The Rockets were playing their fifth straight game without Dwight Howard (knee strain) and were also missing two other starters.

In the sixth game of a seven-game trip, the Clippers took the lead at the end of the first quarter and didn't trail again. Houston got within 10 points early in the third, but a run by Los Angeles pushed the lead to 18.

Coach Doc Rivers was asked what a win like this tells him about his team, which has lost just once on this trip that ends Saturday in Utah.

"It tells you that their confidence is starting to grow," Rivers said. "I've always thought that when your team has confidence they have energy. They don't get tired. I thought that's what that was (Friday)."

The Clippers were focused on making things happen from the beginning of the game.

"I tried to be more aggressive early — getting to the lane," Griffin said. "We just did a good job of moving the ball early. Even though they were banged up, I thought it was a good test for us."

An alley-oop dunk by DeAndre Jordan made it 94-73 with about six minutes remaining and the starters went to the bench soon after that.

James Harden had 16 points to lead Houston. He said they can't blame their injuries for this loss.

"They're a really good team and we're down on numbers (but) that's no excuse," he said. "We got stops but we just couldn't get a shot to fall."

It's the third straight win for the Clippers and they've won 10 of their last 11 over the Rockets.

J.J. Redick added 15 points and Chris Paul had 10 points and seven assists for Los Angeles.

Already playing without starting point guard Patrick Beverley, the Rockets lost Isaiah Canaan with a sprained left ankle in the second quarter and he didn't return. With both players out, Houston had to rely on the 37-year-old Jason Terry for the rest of the game.

Canaan finished with 13 points and rookie Tarik Black, who was filling in for Howard, had 11 points and nine rebounds. Canaan was on crutches and wearing a boot on his left foot after the game and won't make the trip for Saturday's game at Milwaukee.

The Clippers led by 10 early in the third quarter before using a 10-2 run to extend their advantage to 68-50. Paul and Redick both made 3-pointers in that span.

Crawford scattered cheers from the home crowd when he sunk a long 3-pointer as he fell to the ground late in the third quarter. He was fouled on the play and hit the free throw to push L.A.'s lead to 83-65. He had four 3-pointers.

The Clippers scored the last seven points of the first quarter to take a 26-24 lead. They used a 9-1 run at the beginning of the second to push the lead to 37-25 about nine minutes before halftime. Houston used an 11-5 spurt, powered by three 3-pointers, after that to cut the lead to 42-36.

Jordan had a two-handed dunk late in the second quarter before Terry was called for a flagrant 1 foul for hitting Griffin in the face on his way to the basket. He made both free throws to push Los Angeles to a 56-44 lead at halftime.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Matt Barnes returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games with a sore left calf. ... Guard Chris Douglas-Roberts remains out with a strained right Achilles.

Rockets: F Terrence Jones missed his 12th straight game with nerve damage in his left leg. ... Beverley was out for a third consecutive game with a strained left hamstring.

ON THE ROAD: When the Clippers get back to Los Angeles they will have traveled 7,231 miles during this seven-game road trip. That is the second-longest trip by distance that any team in the NBA will travel in a seven-game stretch this season.

"The road is hard," coach Doc Rivers said. "Winning is hard. The fact that we're doing it on the road is great."

UP NEXT

Clippers: At Utah on Saturday.

Rockets: At Milwaukee on Saturday.

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