Los Angeles: Blake Griffin had 22 points and nine rebounds before sitting out most of the fourth quarter, Chris Paul added 20 points and 10 assists, and the Los Angeles Clippers cruised to a 117-89 victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
Paul shot 9 for 14 and had three steals, extending his streak to 14 consecutive games with at least one. Reserve guard Randy Foye locked it up by scoring 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. And center DeAndre Jordan had eight rebounds and seven points in 28 minutes, while failing to block an opponents' shot for the first time in his last 19 games.
Chauncey Billups returned to the lineup, playing his first home game with the Clippers after sitting out two games because of a sore groin. He scored 13 points in 22 minutes. The five-time All-Star, claimed from the New York Knicks in a waiver auction on Dec. 12, averaged 16 points in his first two games with the club.
Kyle Lowry had 17 points and five assists for the Rockets, who won 25 of their previous 31 games against the Clippers and held them under 100 points in 14 of the previous 15 meetings. Houston's two best defensive efforts last season - in terms of lowest field goal percentage by an opponent - were against the Clippers. Los Angeles shot 36.4 percent in a 96-83 loss, and 34.7 percent in a 99-78 defeat.
The Rockets played without reserve swingman Courtney Lee, who injured his right calf Tuesday night on a non-contact play in the fourth quarter of a 108-99 loss to the Lakers.
Paul, who averaged 20.6 points and 10.0 assists in his previous 16 games against Houston while playing for the New Orleans Hornets, had 11 points and six assists in the first quarter to help the Clippers build a 67-55 halftime lead. Los Angeles ended the half shooting 67.5 percent while committing four of its seven turnovers.
Reserve guard Ryan Gomes beat the first-quarter buzzer with a 17-footer from the left baseline for a 41-26 margin. The Rockets narrowed the gap to 47-40 on Lowry's 3-pointer with 7:38 left in the second quarter, but got no closer the rest of the game as the Clippers pulled away in the third.
Griffin, who went to the bench for good with 10:17 remaining, finished with 16 points in the paint - including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Paul to cap an 18-7 run and give Los Angeles an 85-62 cushion with 5:47 left in the third.
Houston coach Kevin McHale then emptied his bench during the ensuing timeout, and the Rockets scored the next four points. Moments later, Griffin and reserve center Samuel Dalembert nearly got into it under the Clippers' basket before they were separated by Jordan.
The fourth quarter became a showcase for Foye, who scored 10 points in the first 3:42 to help the Clippers increase a 15-point lead to 102-76. He added a layup to make it a 30-point advantage with 5:07 to play.
Notes: Sitting in the second-row across from the Rockets' bench were Steve Garvey and Orel Hershiser, who are in a group that is trying to purchase the Dodgers from Frank McCourt. Among their competition is Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. ... Rockets reserve F Marcus Morris, the 14th pick in the draft, has played only 17 minutes in the team's first six games. Twin brother Markieff, drafted one spot ahead of him by Phoenix, has played 117 minutes through the Suns' first six games. ... This is the fifth time the Rockets have played the Clippers and Lakers back-to-back at Staples Center on the same trip since the building opened in 1999-00, and the first time they lost both. They came out with a split the other four times. ... Griffin set a Clippers record for double-doubles last season with 63, including all four games against Houston - including a 24-point, 18-rebound effort the first time he faced them.