"We're going to have to see them down the road at some point," Howard said. "We understand that playing this team, we've got to get off to better starts. Three games that we've lost to this team, we've come out slow and they were able to capitalize on that. They got their energy going and they were able to play off that."
Collison and Jared Dudley, the first two players off the Clippers' bench, hit consecutive 3-pointers 18 seconds apart to give them an 82-76 lead with 9:21 to play. Los Angeles never trailed after that.
"I've been working on my jump shot all season long because I knew I was going to be in this situation at times," Collison said. "If I'm out there, I'm going to be aggressive and try to score any way I can."
Houston led 48-46 at halftime after erasing a 13-point deficit. Los Angeles opened the game with a 14-2 run as the Rockets missed seven of their first eight shots — including an attempted dunk by Howard.
NOTES: Griffin has scored 20 or more points in a career-best 18 straight games. The only longer streak this season is by Kevin Durant, who is at 31 games and counting. ... The game featured the three players with the most dunks in the NBA: Jordan (169), Howard (154) and Griffin (134). Griffin didn't have a dunk the entire game. ... Harden, who was born in L.A. and played high school ball in Lakewood, is averaging 12.3 points on 34.3 percent shooting in 15 career games against the Clippers.