LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers had a humorous take when asked about the Houston Rockets adding Lou Williams to their high-octane attack.
“Just gives them more shooting,” Rivers said. “They needed so much more shooting. I mean they’re really struggling scoring. And Lou just fit right in. No shootaround, no practice and he had 27 points in the first game.”
Williams returns to Los Angeles for his first game since being traded when the Rockets face the Clippers in a clash of Western Conference contenders Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Williams scored 81 points in three games after being acquired by the Rockets from the Los Angeles Lakers for Corey Brewer and a first-round pick last week.
“They’re terrific offensively and that was a great move for them to get Lou,” Rivers said.
The Rockets (42-19) won two of three since Williams’ addition. They lost at home to the Indiana Pacers 117-108 on Monday despite Williams scoring 17 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter. It was only the third loss in the last 10 games for the Rockets, the No. 3 team in the Western Conference.
“It was pretty ugly,” Williams said. “I think early on we made some shots, got a big lead and probably felt like the game was coming to us too easy and we kind of got lax. They picked up their intensity and I don’t think we matched it after that.”
In his debut with the Rockets on Thursday, Williams scored 27 points and matched his career-high with seven 3-pointers in a 129-99 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
“He can score with the best of them,” Rockets guard Pat Beverley told the Houston Chronicle. “He makes that second unit that much more deadly, that more potent, that more explosive. We’re super excited to have him.”
Although Williams enhances the Rockets’ offense, it still revolves around All-Star guard James Harden, who is enjoying an MVP-caliber season. Harden was the NBA’s third-leading scorer at 28.8 points and tops in assists at 11.3 per game entering Tuesday’s games. He also averages 8.1 rebounds.
Against the Clippers, Harden is putting up 29.4 points and shooting 49.4 percent in the last five contests. The Rockets won five of the last seven meetings against Los Angeles, including a 140-116 romp Dec. 20 at Houston. Harden had 30 points.
The Clippers (36-23) are coming off a 124-121 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. Blake Griffin delivered a season-high 43 points with 10 rebounds in the win. It ended a two-game losing streak for the Clippers, who were fifth in the conference race and one-half game behind the Utah Jazz.
Chris Paul, who missed 14 games after undergoing surgery for a torn ligament in his left thumb, finished with 15 points, 17 assists and nine rebounds against the Hornets in his second game back since the injury.
With the Clippers being as healthy as they’ve been since early in the season, Rivers said he believes it will take a few games to find their rhythm.