National Basketball Association
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               === Clippers end southern tour against Rockets ===
 (Sports   Network)   -  An  intriguing  battle  involving  Western  Conference
 inhabitants  is set  to  take place  Saturday night  between  the Los  Angeles
 Clippers and Houston Rockets from the Toyota Center.
 The  Clippers  will close out  their quick tour  through Texas and a four-game
 road  trip against  the Rockets. Los Angeles  is 1-2 on the swing and will try
 not to lose any more ground in the West standings.
 L.A.,  which  is fourth in the  conference at one-half game behind idle Denver
 and  one-half game ahead of Memphis, had won three of four games until running
 into the West-leading San Antonio Spurs in a 104-102 setback Friday night. Tim
 Duncan  made a  three-point play with 2.2 seconds left and Chris Paul misfired
 on a shot at the horn for the Clippers.
 "The  Spurs are  obviously having a tremendous season. They've been together a
 long  time,"  said Clippers coach  Vinny Del Negro.  "I thought we battled. We
 could  have slowed  them down a little bit.  We did a better job in the second
 half  controlling them  as much as possible.  We were not able to convert down
 the stretch. They made a couple shots that we didn't. That's the difference in
 these games."
 Blake  Griffin  and Jamal Crawford scored  18 and 16 points, respectively, and
 Paul  ended with  14 points and 12  assists for Los Angeles, which is 21-16 on
 the  road and  will  start a  four-game homestand  next  week versus  Indiana.
 Clippers guard Chauncey Billups (groin) did not play in San Antonio.
 The Clippers are averaging 100.9 ppg this season, eighth in the NBA.
 Houston  is second  in the league with  106.0 ppg, but has been held under the
 century mark in scoring over the last three games (1-2).
 The  Rockets  had  a  three-game  losing  streak  stopped  versus  Indiana  on
 Wednesday,  then  sustained a 103-94  setback Friday  at Memphis. They shot 42
 percent  for the game and were led by 16 points from both Chandler Parsons and
 Donatas Motiejunas.
 "We  made  more mistakes defensively tonight  than we have been," said Rockets
 coach Kevin McHale.
 James  Harden  had only  seven points  -- his lowest  output since a six-point
 effort  Nov. 18  at Utah. Harden leads  the Rockets in scoring and is fifth in
 the NBA with 26.0 ppg.
 Houston,  which had won  three straight and five of six games until the recent
 slide,  is 25-11 at  home and seventh in the West -- 1 1/2 games behind Golden
 State and 2 1/2 games in front of Utah and the L.A. Lakers.
 The  last time  the Rockets lost three  in a row was during a seven-game slide
 from Jan. 9-19 this season.
 Houston is winless (0-2) against the Clippers this season and has lost five in
 a row and six of the last seven meetings.
 03/30 10:55:38 ET