Goran Dragic had 14 points, seven assists and a career-high 10 rebounds in his first start for the Rockets since he was acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline.
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The Rockets dominated one night after Memphis' win ended their postseason hopes. Houston is at least assured of finishing over .500 now, and Hayes said the players are motivated to improve on last season's 42-40 mark.
"If we win out and go 44-38, that would be a great achievement," Hayes said. "That would show the character of this team."
Houston plays Dallas on Monday and wraps up the regular season in Minnesota on Wednesday.
"The main emphasis is just finishing the season strong," Budinger said. "That's about it."
Dragic shook off a hard fall in the first half, and ended up playing 39 minutes.
"Every player wants to play a lot of minutes," Dragic said. "Toward the end of the game, my legs were a little bit heavy and your shot is not so consistent. But you have to go through that, and try to play hard."
"He is extremely smart and he knows exactly what to do and what angles he takes away from you," Griffin said. "He doesn't look like the typical shutdown big man. But he is so strong and he gets the job done."
Houston blocked 11 shots and held the Clippers to 35 percent shooting (33 of 95), a season low for a Rockets' opponent.
The Rockets took control with a 22-9 spurt in the second quarter that put them up 53-37 at the break. The Clippers went 3 minutes without scoring at the start of the spurt, and shot 33 percent in the quarter (15 of 46).
"We were able to get some stops and get out in transition," Budinger said of the game's decisive stretch. "We were definitely attacking and we were able to put them on their heels."
Houston outrebounded Los Angeles 32-22 in the first half. The Rockets grabbed two offensive rebounds on a possession early in the third period, and Hayes' layup made it 59-42.
Griffin cut inside for a one-handed dunk with 3:16 left in the third quarter, but the Rockets stayed in command. Dragic swished a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:25 remaining for a 74-55 lead.
The Clippers failed to score 20 points in any of the first three quarters.
"We just couldn't put the ball in the basket," Los Angeles coach Vinny Del Negro said. "Houston got a lot of rebounds, and we kept missing shots."
Los Angeles missed seven of its first eight shots in the final quarter, and Courtney Lee's reverse layup stretched the deficit over 20 points.
Miller sank a 3 with 8:35 left to put the Rockets up 83-57. Miller went 4 for 4 on 3s.
Griffin came out for good with 5:22 remaining and Houston ahead 91-65.
The Rockets tied a season high with 58 rebounds.
Dragic landed hard after he was fouled by Mo Williams on a driving layup with 5:26 left in the first quarter. He limped off the floor during a timeout, but then hit the resulting free throw.
The Rockets went 4 for 7 on 3s in the opening quarter and led 25-18.
|The Rockets' Chuck Hayes (44) connects for 12 points and 13 rebounds during a win over the Clippers. (Getty Images)|
|L.A. Clippers (31-50)||18||19||18||23||78|
|Houston (42-38) «||25||28||21||25||99|
|LAC:E. Gordon 19 Pts
LAC:D. Jordan 11 Reb
LAC:E. Gordon 6 Ast
|HOU:B. Miller 16 Pts
HOU:C. Hayes 13 Reb
HOU:G. Dragic 7 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|E. Gordon, SG||42||7-20||3-3||1||6||0||19|
|B. Griffin, PF||36||6-18||1-2||10||4||0||13|
|M. Williams, PG||30||1-6||0-0||2||4||2||3|
|D. Jordan, C||24||4-7||0-0||11||0||4||8|
|J. Moon, SF||23||2-5||0-0||4||0||1||5|
|R. Foye, PG||25||3-13||1-3||1||3||1||8|
|A. Aminu, SF||24||2-11||0-0||5||0||3||5|
|C. Smith, PF||19||3-7||0-0||4||0||3||6|
|B. Cook, PF||11||3-4||0-0||3||1||2||7|
|I. Diogu, PF||5||2-4||0-2||4||0||0||4|
|C. Kaman, C||Did Not Play|
|R. Gomes, SF||Did Not Play|
|E. Bledsoe, PG||Did Not Play|
|W. Warren, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|C. Hayes, PF||39||6-9||0-0||13||5||2||12|
|G. Dragic, PG||38||5-13||2-3||10||7||3||14|
|C. Budinger, SF||36||7-15||1-1||9||4||1||16|
|K. Martin, SG||31||6-17||1-2||5||5||2||16|
|P. Patterson, PF||19||3-5||0-0||4||0||2||6|
|B. Miller, C||26||5-6||2-2||5||5||2||16|
|C. Lee, SG||26||3-8||4-4||5||2||2||10|
|J. Hill, PF||12||2-4||1-2||2||0||2||5|
|M. Harris, SF||9||1-3||2-4||5||1||1||4|
|D. Carroll, SF||3||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|L. Scola, PF||Did Not Play|
|Y. Ming, C||Did Not Play|
|K. Lowry, PG||Did Not Play|
|H. Thabeet, C||Did Not Play|
|T. Williams, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|