(AP) — With an improved effort on both ends of the court, the Los Angeles Clippers find themselves in an unfamiliar position.
Looking for a rare home victory over the surging Houston Rockets, the Clippers will try to extend their longest winning streak of the season Wednesday night.
After dropping 21 of its first 26, Los Angeles defeated Minnesota 113-90 on Monday night for its third straight win. The Clippers (8-21) haven’t won four in a row since a season-best run Dec. 31, 2009-Jan. 10.
They are averaging 96.8 points and surrendering 100.8 on the season but have scored 107.3 and allowed 92.3 during the win streak.
“We just got together as a team and said we didn’t feel like the worst team, even though that is what our record showed,” said Blake Griffin, who recorded his 16th straight double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds Monday.
“Everybody since then has stepped up and did their part, nobody is trying to do too much. Everybody is doing exactly what they need to and that’s how you win games.”
Eric Gordon went 5 of 7 from 3-point range as he recorded a season-high 36 points Monday. He has made 61.5 percent of his attempts from long distance in his last three games.
“We are playing more as a team, we are just playing well together right now,” Gordon said after Los Angeles matched a season high with 31 assists.
The Clippers will be short-handed Wednesday as forward Craig Smith is expected to miss at least two weeks with a herniated disc in his lower back. Smith is averaging 5.8 points and 2.9 rebounds in 13.9 minutes.
After starting its three-game trip with a 102-93 victory over Sacramento on Sunday, Houston (13-15) beat Golden State 121-112 on Monday night for its third straight win.
The Rockets have split their last six on the road after dropping eight of their first 10.
“I don’t know what our road record is but I know it’s not good, so these two wins and with a chance to go in to L.A. and try to get a sweep would be huge for us,” point guard Kyle Lowry said. “Shane (Battier), before we left on this road trip, he made sure that our emphasis was on what we could do on this trip.”
Kevin Martin scored 30 on Monday and is averaging 27.0 points in his previous six games, over which the Rockets have gone 5-1.
“We’ve been playing better as of late so it’s easier to come out here with a little bit of confidence and win these games,” said Battier, who went 4 of 6 from 3-point range against the Warriors.
Martin is averaging 22.0 points while going 10 of 18 from beyond the arc in his last three meetings with the Clippers.
The Rockets, who rank among the best in the NBA with 105.8 points per game, have taken 11 of the previous 13 matchups with the Clippers at Staples Center by an average of 11.6 points.
Houston hasn’t won three straight on the road since Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 2009.
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