The Rockets and Clippers are both dealing with injuries -- but only one is staying afloat.
The Clippers and Rockets both took the brunt of bad news over the weekend, learning their star big men would be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, only one of those teams is equipped to stay above water without them.
For Los Angeles, this news couldn’t come at a worse time. L.A. has already lost five of six including a season-high four straight. The team’s offense has taken a nose dive this season when Griffin is off the floor (-13.7 points per 100 possessions) and doesn’t have a reserve big man capable of replacing his offensive production.
For Houston, the loss of Howard 'tis but a flesh wound. Make no mistake, the Rockets are worse off without Howard, but they can survive without him in the interim. Howard’s impact on the offense (+2.3 offensive rating) is far less significant than Griffin’s and his impact on the team’s defense isn’t as monumental (-3.3) as you might think. With Josh Smith and Donatas Motiejunas, Houston has the depth and versatility to replace Howard. In Los Angeles, its on the less-certain shoulders of Spencer Hawes and Glen Davis.
Furthermore, Houston is well-versed with life without Howard. The Rockets are 13-6 this year when Howard doesn’t suit up, while L.A. is just 0-1 without Griffin after losing to Oklahoma City on Sunday.
Life won’t be easy without either star, but the Rockets are proving they can get by. Houston stays in the top five this week after winning five of its last seven without Howard. The Clippers, meanwhile, slide down the board.
Let’s see where all 30 teams stand in this week’s NBA Power Rankings:
(All stats and records through Feb. 8)