Chris Paul Returns
Chris Paul #3 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers confer against the Houston Rockets during Game Three of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 124-99. Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

LOS ANGELES – Austin Rivers was frustrated after he face-planted on the court at the end of Game Two in Houston during the Clippers second round playoff series with the Rockets.

The costly turnover with less than a minute to play arguably cost the Clippers the game and many believed it would be Rivers defining moment. Especially with Clippers All-Star point guard Chris Paul set to return for Game Three.

Rivers silenced the critics and turned that frustration into fuel on Friday night as he scored 25 points to lead the Clippers as they crushed the Rockets 124-99 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals.

"Blake [Griffin] came up to me after Game 2 and said, 'I made an error just like that, when I made it, we were up two in Game 2 against the Spurs.' He told me, 'It was the right read.' I just lost my footing and it happens," said Rivers about his turnover in Game Two. "It's part of the game. Learn from it, Never be too high or low, and keep playing."

Paul played only 23 minutes going 5-of-12 from the field for 12 points with a team-high seven assists. Paul had missed the previous two games of the series with a strained hamstring suffered in Game Seven against San Antonio.

"It felt great," said Paul about returning. "It's actually harder sitting out. I was stressed out sitting on that bench for Game 1 and Game 2, so it was fun to get out there and be a part of the action."

Paul looked good cutting and jumping in Game Three all the components necessary to test the hamstring muscle.

"I got through it," he said matter of factly. "At this point in the season, nobody is 100 percent."

J.J. Redick scored a game-high, and career playoff-best 31 points with five three-pointers; Blake Griffin had 22 points and 14 rebounds as the Clippers had five players in double figures.

"Just having Chris [Paul] back out there orchestrating things was huge," said Redick. "That starting five has played so many minutes together the last two years that there's such a familiarity with each other. Because of that, I was able to get to my spots and knock them down."

The Rockets had six players in double-figures, but it was not enough to top the Clippers who went on an amazing 23-0 run to close the third quarter. Rivers scored 15 points to spark the run as the Clips took the wind out of the Rockets sails and went into the fourth with a 23-point lead.

"I kept seeing that they [the Houston Rockets] were back pedaling, because it's hard to guard when someone is going at you full speed and change direction," said Rivers of the run. "I saw that, and so I was going at them. Everybody was just aggressive during that spurt."

Austin and Doc Rivers
Austin Rivers #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers is greeted by head coach Doc Rivers as he comes off the floor against the Houston Rockets during Game Three of the Western Conference semifinals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 8, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 124-99. Stephen Dunn / Getty Images

James Harden scored 25 points and 11 assists, but most of his points came from beyond the arc, as Los Angeles did a tremendous job keeping the runner up in the NBA's MVP race out of the paint for the majority of the game.

"He [James Harden] is the key for their team," said Clippers forward Matt Barnes who guarded Harden at times. "He is one of the best in the game at getting to the free-throw line, and we can keep him off the line, then he has to try and do something else. The refs were making him earn it tonight, which is good."

"I was jus too passive," countered Harden. "I think I could have been more aggressive."

Dwight Howard had 14 points and 14 rebounds in a losing effort for Houston.

Jason Terry was ejected in the fourth quarter for pushing Griffin in the back.

Despite the return of Paul, the defensive dominance of DeAndre Jordan and Redick's red-hot three-point shooting, the star of the game was the Coach's son. River's outburst off the bench matched the entire Rockets reserves, which consisted of a seven different players. In total, the Clippers bench outscored the Rockets bench 46-25.

Proud Dad, Doc Rivers, was so impressed with his son's offensive output that he left him in the game for the first few minutes of the fourth quarter and on the court during the final few minutes as well. The Staples Center fans saluted Rivers performance by chanting "Austin Rivers" throughout the fourth quarter.

"Austin Rivers was special tonight," said Jamal Crawford who added 12 points off the bench. "It was unbelievable. It was like we were back at Duke the way all the fans were chanting 'Austin Rivers.'"

Game Notes:
Matt Barnes was fined $50,000 before the game for making disparaging comments at Rockets guard James Harden's mother in Game Two.

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