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OPINION: Rockets’ terrible shooting night leads to lopsided loss to the Clippers

Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, is fouled by Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Houston. The Clippers won 120-105. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Houston Rockets' James Harden, left, is fouled by Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, March 5, 2020, in Houston. The Clippers won 120-105. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The Rockets dropped an important game to the Los Angeles Clippers, 120-105, Thursday night. The game was not as close as the final score appears.

The Rockets struggled to shoot against a Clippers team that has figured out how to defend the “small ball.”

Here is a look at what went wrong:

Shooting woes

The Rockets had one of the worst shooting nights of the year, going 7 of 42 from the three-point line. The Rockets missed 20 consecutive three-pointers at one point. Alone, James Harden went 0-8 from behind the arc.

Only one Rockets player Jeff Green made multiple threes, going 3 for 6 in the game. The Rockets starters shot 2-23.

The Rockets offense is straightforward: when they’re making threes, they’re one of the best teams in the NBA. When the Rockets aren’t making threes, results are similar to Thursday night.

Russ still goes hard

There’s no way to blame the Rockets loss on Russell Westbrook, who led the team in points, rebounds and assists.

Westbrook put up 29 points and 15 rebounds in the game, where he never lost energy despite long stretches where the Rockets were down 15 and more points.

Westbrook is averaging 32.3 points per game on 52.5% shooting since the beginning of the calendar year. He has been one of the best sources of energy on a Rockets team, who is 11-4 since switching to small ball.

Rockets on National TV

At one point in the season, the Houston Rockets were far worse in nationally televised games than they were overall.

Since the start of February, Houston is 7-2 in nationally televised games after starting 10-10. The team’s record in nationally televised games 17-12 (.586) is quite a bit worse than the team’s overall record (39-22, .639).

The Rockets are 22-10 when not playing on national television.