Rockets hope comeback fever carries over against Clips

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Russell Westbrook believes a franchise-record comeback against the San Antonio Spurs could provide the Houston Rockets a big boost.

“For sure, especially when we got the big road trip coming up. It’s going to be huge for us,” Westbrook told reporters following the stunning win on Monday.

The Rockets open their four-game trip with a Thursday night matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers. The two clubs split their initial two contests, with the home team winning each time.

Westbrook finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds, while James Harden had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as the Rockets rallied from a 25-point deficit to beat the Spurs in Houston. Ben McLemore added 17 points and Clint Capela contributed 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

The Rockets’ comeback broke the previous mark of being down 23 points in 110-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 22, 1977.

“Sometimes you’ve got to want it more than the other team. It’s that simple,” Westbrook said.

Harden, the NBA’s leading scorer at 38.9 points per game, had a horrible start against the Spurs, missing 13 of his initial 15 shots before recovering. He converted 10 of 29 shots overall, but made just 4 of 13 3-pointers.

“My confidence is never gone, no matter if I go 0-for-20 or whatever,” Harden said. “I’m always going to shoot the ball and be aggressive.”

Harden rarely has stretches of not being aggressive. In the past five games, he is averaging 40.6 points per game, including back-to-back contests of 55 and 54 points in wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic.

He scored 37 points in a 122-119 loss to the Clippers on Nov. 22 and 47 in Houston’s 102-93 win over Los Angeles on Nov. 13.

The Clippers routed the Phoenix Suns 120-99 on Tuesday. Paul George scored 24 points and Kawhi Leonard added 20 for the Clippers, who are 14-1 at home.

Lou Williams, who missed the previous two contests with a sore calf, also scored 20 and recorded eight assists. Williams connected on 5 of 7 3-pointers and 7 of 13 shots from the floor but managed just three points in the first half.

“At halftime, I walked by (Williams) and said ‘Are you gonna make a shot today,'” said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, according to the Orange County Register. “But I was just kidding around. He may have taken it seriously.”

Rivers was pleased to have almost his full squad, one that has been hurt by injuries. Guard Patrick Beverley returned after missing two games with a concussion. Leonard also was back in the lineup after missing the second end of a back-to-back in a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Clippers have kept Leonard out of consecutive contests due to a lingering knee injury.

Reserve forward JaMychal Green missed his fifth straight contest with a tailbone contusion. He isn’t expected to return against the Rockets.

In addition to their big rally against the Spurs, the Rockets extended their streak of making at least 10 3-pointers to 83 consecutive games.

The Rockets, who have won three of their last four, visit the Suns on Saturday before playing at the Sacramento Kings on Monday and the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day.

–Field Level Media

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