Clippers vs. Rockets preview: Can LA keep winning without Chris Paul?

USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers star is day-to-day with a knee bruise, but LA didn't miss a beat without him in their 26-point drubbing of the Grizzlies on Monday.

The Clippers depth has helped them get out to the second-best start in the NBA this season, only one game behind the Thunder in the West. It will be tested again on Tuesday, as they may be without Chris Paul again. Paul missed their game against Memphis on Monday with a knee bruise.

They travel to Houston on the second night of a back-to-back to play the Rockets, one of the many teams chasing them in the Western Conference playoff race. Playing at home will be a relief for Houston, who lost all three games on their recent East Coast road trip.

Jeremy Lin could be in for a long night regardless of Paul's status, as he'll have to deal with the aggressive, ball-hawking defense of Eric Bledsoe for 35+ minutes if the Clippers MVP candidate can't play.

Upfront, the "Lob City" duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will test Omer Asik, who will have his hands full trying to control the glass against one of the most athletic front-courts in the NBA.

The most interesting match-up of the night will be at the shooting guard position, where two former Sixth Man of the Year winners square off.

James Harden has graduated from a reserve role to emerge as a star in Houston, averaging 26 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds on 46/86/35 shooting. Jamal Crawford, after a disappointing stint in Portland, has found his touch in LA, where he's the Clippers leading scorer despite coming off the bench.

The Rockets have opened as two-point favorites, but they'll almost certainly need an All-Star caliber performance from Harden to overcome one of the hottest teams in the NBA, with or without Paul.

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