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Key players: With Rockets forward Luis Scola likely to be out, they need Carl Landry to bring his usual jolt of scoring and make up for Scola's absence, especially on the boards. For the Clippers, center Chris Kaman is having perhaps the best of his seven seasons, averaging 19.5 points and 8.6 rebounds. But he is coming off his first single-digit scoring game of the season.
Rockets (9-8) update: Luis Scola is expected to miss the game while his cut right eyelid heals. The Rockets have won 10 of their last 12 games against the Clippers in L.A.
Clippers (8-10) update: Guard Eric Gordon returned to the starting lineup for the first time since going out with a sore left groin muscle and had a season-high 29 points Sunday. Forward Blake Griffin, the first pick of the draft, is out with a stress fracture.
Scola a cut above
A day after the Rockets announced forward Luis Scola would miss tonight's game against the Clippers because of the gash and swelling above his right eye, Scola said he was not worried about being back in time to play the Warriors on Thursday because he was trying to change the Rockets' position about tonight.
"I'm more interested about tomorrow," Scola said Tuesday. "We'll see how it goes. It's just a cut. The position of the cut is a little bit tricky. It's right next to the eye."
Scola was required to sit out Tuesday's practice, but he shot to get used to the goggles he will wear for at least a week. That was enough for him to begin lobbying trainer Keith Jones to allow him to play.
"I'm looking forward to opening the paper and seeing a huge headline: ?Scola, trainer argue behind closed doors,'?" Shane Battier said. "That's what I want to see in the paper tomorrow. ?Huge fight! Chaos! Scola! Keith Jones!'?"
Asked to handicap their fight, Battier said, "Never bet against a mad Argentinean. There's no questioning his desire to play and be out here. He looks at his eye as a minor flesh wound. Most other people will be out a few weeks for that."
Scola no longer has to wear the eye patch he sported Sunday and Monday, but he said that for a day his son Tiago, 3, called him a pirate and had swordfights with him "like Peter Pan."
Guard Chase Budinger left Tuesday's practice with a sprained left ankle but is expected to play tonight.
Budinger missed one game this season when he sprained the ankle.
Early road test
Coming off Sunday's win in Oklahoma City, the Rockets returned home for two practices before playing three road games this week.
Starting with the game Sunday, they will play 10 of 14 games on the road, making their ability to win away from home a key to their record two months into the season.
"It's a big challenge," center Chuck Hayes said. "We know what is the situation at hand. It's still early, but if you want to separate yourself for a playoff run and give yourself that cushion, you have to do that (win on the road). It's a big challenge for us. We can do it. It's attainable."