Los Angeles 3, Houston and the Ego Man ZERO

Seven games into the NBA season, and Los Angeles teams are a solid three and ZERO against the pretenders from Houston, ostensibly led by the Ego man, the laughing man, the guy who fled from Staples to play in the vast expanse of Southeast Texas, Deee-Wight Howard.

The three game run was begun with a Clippers’ victory in LA, followed by a Lakers’ win in Houston, and it climaxed last night, with a solid, going-away win by the Clippers in Houston.

The Clippers did not even have to spend much effort on the Hack-a-Howad, as a second-half, 18-0 run put the team comfortably ahead by the fourth quarter, on its way to its 13-point, 107-94 win.

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Clippers’ big men clearly outplayed Howard and the Rockets’ front line, with DeAndre Jordan having a fine time shooting six-of-eight for 12 points and a game high 18 rebounds. But the key up front for the Clippers was Blake Griffin, who went up against Howard one-on-one time-after-time, and defending and scoring with abandon. After one early-game block, Griffin figured it out, and thereafter took the ball right at Howard, for several scores, finishing with 22 points, on nine-of-16, in only 34 minutes (due to foul trouble, ending with five).

The Ego Man, on the other hand, while he did put in 21 points, had a season low of eight rebounds, despite playing a season high of 39 minutes. Credit that big, tough, dominant Clippers’ front line, and Howard’s increasing inability to understand winning fundamentals of basketball and what needs to be done on a team basis to win games.

The Rockets have won four of seven this season, and barely lost to the Lakers, due first to the play of James Harden, and secondarily due to Chandler Parsons, Patrick Beverly, and a couple of others, but not due to much of anything that Howard has done since his opening day effort, which will likely remain his 2013-2014 season highlight.

Harden was hurting last night and could not give his best effort, but it did not make a difference – the Clippers would have still won

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even if Harden had been healthy. The Rockets are floundering, even in some ways worse that the Lakers of last season when the Howard Menace was destroying them. At least they have a certifiable team leader they could, and did, depend on as always, in Kobe Bryant. Houston’s best player is far and away Harden, but he is not a take charge rah-rah guy that evokes a sense of urgency to rally the team when needed, certainly not to the extent the Howard laughs such stuff off, but it still leaves a giant vacuum in on-court leadership, and it’s hard to see from where it could ever come on this current team. It certainly will never be Howard, but if coach Kevin McHale has one task to work on, it would be to bring Harden around to being that guy.

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