Randolph, Thornton power Clippers to consecutive wins

LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Clippers needed back-to-back 30-point efforts from newly acquired Zach Randolph to win consecutive games for the first time this season.

Randolph had 30 points and 13 rebounds Saturday night in a 95-82 victory over the Houston Rockets. Friday night at Portland, he had 38 points and 11 boards in a double-overtime win.

"It's a building block. We're trying to build," Randolph said after the Clippers improved to 6-17. "The young guys played great, and that's what we need to win. We have to come out every night and play defense, then worry about the offensive end after we get stops."

Randolph was the first player to reach the 30-point mark in consecutive games for the Clippers since March 15-17, when Corey Maggette had a pair of 34-point efforts in road losses against Washington and Minnesota.

"Man, I can't see a flaw or name one negative thing in his game," teammate Marcus Camby said of Randolph. "He has been as advertised. He's been doing it all for us, and we definitely need it. Even when he misses his shot, it seems he always knows where to go and he's able to gather it up and go back up."

Yao Ming had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who had beaten the Clippers in seven consecutive meetings and 19 of the previous 22. Tracy McGrady scored 19 points on 5-for-17 shooting in his second game back after missing the previous seven because of a sore left knee.

"We just kept a hand in T-Mac's face," Randolph said. "With a player like that, you can't do too much except try to contest his shots."

Al Thornton scored 26 points and Camby added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who got double-digit scoring from all of their starters. Baron Davis, who had 23 points and eight assists against the Rockets in the previous meeting at Houston despite a case of food poisoning, had 13 points and nine assists in the rematch.

Houston shot 35.6 percent, including 5-for-21 from 3-point range. Ron Artest sat out for the third time in the last four games because of a sore right ankle.

Yao opened the fourth quarter with a layup that trimmed the Clippers' lead to 70-66. Los Angeles then went on a 13-3 run triggered by a pair of 20-foot jumpers from first-round draft pick Eric Gordon.

"We played a very poor second half. It was all us," Houston coach Rick Adelman said. "We took bad shots and there was no sharpness, and it led to turnovers. There were just very poor decisions. We didn't play smart at all. I don't know if we thought we were just going to be able to turn it on, but we played right into their hands and all it did was give them energy."

Randolph's 3-pointer capped the rally for an 83-69 lead with 5:03 to play, and Houston got no closer than 10 points on Shane Battier's 3-pointer with 1:53 remaining.

"Zach played well, but going down the stretch, Al Thornton was the big key," Camby said. "He had it going. He was slashing toward the bucket, getting easy layups and getting himself to the free throw line."

Randolph is 15-for-43 from behind the arc, 8-for-19 since joining the Clippers in a trade from the New York Knicks on Nov. 21.

"I work on it at practice," the 6-9, 260-pound forward said. "There ain't a lot of power forwards that can shoot too many 3s, so that's something I take advantage of."

Yao left the game with 10:33 remaining in the third quarter and the Rockets ahead 52-47. He was inadvertently poked in the left eye by Camby while attempting to block Camby's layup, and the Clippers forward raked him across the face as they came down. Yao reported back in with 7:19 left in the period and the Rockets clinging to a 56-54 lead.

"We tried to get the ball inside to Yao, to get some post presence established. But the ball never got to where he was going," McGrady said. "From that point on, they made runs and we just couldn't get some sort of offense going."

Camby was pleased with the way he was able to help contain Yao.

"He's a tough cover for anybody," Camby said. "He's 7-6, 300-plus, so you just try to make him work for everything. We know he's the focal point for them, we know he's going to score some points and he's going to get some points. We just want to make him take some tough shots."

The Rockets missed 10 of their first 11 shots from 3-point range before McGrady and Rafer Alston both connected from behind the arc in the final 1:45 of the half to help Houston take a 48-45 lead at intermission. Randolph scored 15 points in the first quarter on 6-for-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds to help Los Angeles take a 28-22 lead.

Game notes
Alston left the game with 5:51 to play due to a left hamstring strain. ... The Clippers have shot under 50 percent from the field in all 23 games and are 2-14 when scoring fewer than 100 points. ... F Luis Scola, the only player to start in all 24 games for the Rockets, had eight points and seven rebounds. ... F Steve Novak, who spent his first two NBA seasons with Houston before he was traded to the Clippers on Aug. 6, did not get off the bench. He is averaging 6.5 minutes in the 15 games in which he has played for his new team. ... McGrady missed all five shots and finished with two points in 26 minutes the last time the Rockets played the Clippers at Los Angeles on Nov. 7.