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03/30/2013 11:53 PM EDT
Rockets cruise past Clippers, 98-81
HOUSTON 98, LA CLIPPERS 81

By JORDAN GODWIN
Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) -- Playing without leading scorer James Harden, the
Houston Rockets cracked one of the league's best defenses by
spreading the ball around.



Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Francisco Garcia scored 15
points apiece and Omer Asik added 13 points to lead the Rockets
to a 98-81 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday
night.



Harden missed his third game of the season with a right ankle
sprain, but the Rockets had all the right answers in his
absence.



Harden, who played 26 minutes and scored a four-month low seven
points in a 103-94 road loss to Memphis on Friday night, ranks
fifth in the league at 26.0 points per game.



"We had a lot of guys play well," Rockets coach Kevin McHale
said. "The ball was really moving tonight, and it was good to
see that. Everybody was in tune."



Garcia had his best game since being traded to Houston from
Sacramento in February, hitting 3 of 7 shots from beyond the arc
as a spark off the bench to help Houston snap a two-game losing
streak.



"When your best player is out, everybody has got to step up,"
Garcia said. "That's what we did tonight. We stayed together and
got the win."



Lin and Parsons combined for 13 points in the third quarter,
when the Rockets outscored Los Angeles 30-13. The rally gave
Houston a 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and
Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro had seen enough.



Point guard Chris Paul was the only Clippers starter to play in
the final quarter, as Del Negro benched Blake Griffin, DeAndre
Jordan, Caron Butler and Willie Green in the fourth.



"We were terrible, our effort was terrible, our attitude was
terrible and our urgency was terrible," Del Negro said. "They
know exactly how I feel, and they didn't say much. That's not
what we're about."



Los Angeles was playing its fourth game in five nights, but Del
Negro said the schedule was no excuse for Saturday night's
display.



For the second consecutive game, the Clippers failed to secure
their franchise-record 50th victory. The Clippers tied the
1974-75 team record for wins in a season by beating New Orleans
on Wednesday.



Paul led the Clippers with 19 points, seven assists and three
steals.



"That was terrible," Paul said. "If I knew why, I'd tell you.
But I know this is on us."



Los Angeles has lost three of its last four games, allowing at
least 98 points in each loss.



The Rockets frustrated the Clippers in the second quarter with
Griffin and Jamal Crawford both drawing technical fouls for
disputing calls against them.



"When that happens, it's a selfish act that doesn't make any
sense, and it hurts the team," Del Negro said of the technicals.
"I've got a lot of whining going on and a lack of urgency going
on and it's disappointing."



The Rockets outscored the Clippers 48-26 in the paint, and the
Houston bench outscored Los Angeles' reserves 39-31. Carlos
Delfino scored 11 points and Patrick Beverley added nine for the
Rockets' bench.



Garcia hit three straight 3-pointers in the first half to lead
the Rockets with 13 first-half points. Houston led 55-50 at the
break.



"If you look across the board, no one really did anything
spectacular," Lin said. "But everybody played their role, did
their jobs, and that's what you need when you're playing without
your star player."



Asik registered his 30th double-double of the season with 13
points and 12 rebounds, adding two blocks.



Making his first NBA start in place of Harden, Rockets guard
James Anderson scored seven points and added five rebounds, two
steals and two assists. Rockets forward Greg Smith had nine
points and eight rebounds, also in his first NBA start.



The loss dropped Los Angeles to fifth in the Western Conference
as Memphis moved into fourth with a win over Minnesota.



Houston finished March with a 9-4 record after going 6-5 in
February. On Monday, the Rockets host Orlando, while the
Clippers host Indiana.



NOTES: Harden sprained his right ankle in a Feb. 12 road victory
at Golden State and did not play the following game. A similar
injury to the same ankle also caused him to miss a Dec. 10
meeting against San Antonio. ... Clippers forward Matt Barnes
left the game in the fourth quarter with a left ankle sprain.
... Parsons, a University of Florida graduate, said he plans to
attend Sunday's South Regional final between the Gators and
Michigan, with a trip to the Final Four on the line.

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