November 28, 2023

James Harden hits clutch 3, finally gets 1st win with Clippers

LOS ANGELES — After drilling a side-step 3 that simply beat the shot clock, James Harden sat close to the half-court emblem and shook his head in delight because the Arena crowd roared.

Harden not solely hit his largest shot as an LA Clipper, he gained his first recreation with his new staff with some classic pictures in crunch time. He delivered his finest recreation as a Clipper with 24 factors, 9 rebounds and 7 assists to assist LA to a 106-100 win over the Houston Rockets.

The Clippers (4-7) snapped a six-game dropping streak by scoring 12 of the ultimate 13 factors to beat a 99-94 deficit with 2:15 left.

The win was large, provided that the Clippers had misplaced 5 straight with Harden on the ground. But extra essential than the win was that Harden is beginning to really feel extra like himself with every recreation after not taking part in a coaching camp or preseason earlier than the commerce.

Harden completed 8-of-11 from the sector and in addition linked with Ivica Zubac twice on the rim for 2 huge baskets within the comeback. On high of hitting the largest shot of the sport, he made performs late with his playmaking and ballhandling.

“I’m getting real close,” Harden mentioned. “I’m getting close to myself every game I feel like I’m improving.”

This was a glimpse of what the Clippers may be with Harden. Their three huge scorers all had moments the place they took management of the sport. Kawhi Leonard snapped out of a little bit droop and had 26 factors, eight rebounds and 5 steals. Paul George had 23 factors, eight rebounds and an enormous block late within the recreation.

The Clippers additionally acquired their first win after making a giant lineup change. Russell Westbrook came off the bench because the sixth man for the primary time as a Clipper. Head coach Ty Lue mentioned Westbrook approached him with the concept to assist the staff snap its slide. Westbrook, Harden, George, Leonard and Zubac had began the primary 5 video games of Harden’s Clippers’ tenure, however these 4 stars had been outscored by 20 factors throughout their 76 minutes collectively coming into Friday’s recreation, in accordance with ESPN Stats & Information.

Westbrook, who left Friday evening with out speaking to reporters, completed with eight factors, three rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes, his fewest since becoming a member of the Clippers earlier than the All-Star break final season.

“He wanted to do that, which [is] an ultimate sacrifice for a guy of his caliber,” Lue mentioned. “For things he’s done in this league, the things he’s done for this team. So shout-out to Russ for wanting to do that. It’s a huge part of what we’ve talked about, just sacrificing wanting to win at a high level.”

George, who campaigned for the Clippers to signal his former Oklahoma City teammate final season, acknowledged Westbrook’s sacrifice.

“It’s tough with his energy and obviously there’s a ton of chemistry there,” George mentioned. “We’ve always played well off one another, but just takes a lot for his sacrifice and what he did for us going forward to try new things out. Can’t say enough just on the character of Russ and his leadership.”

Harden additionally understood what Westbrook was doing within the transfer.

“Russ sacrificed for the team and I know it was a tough decision,” Harden mentioned. “Obviously he wants to start, but sacrificing for the team. All in all it’s going to pay off better for us.

“So simply proceed to verify everybody on this roster is taking part in effectively and we discover our swag, our rhythm as a unit and individually as a staff.”

George liked what he saw and how he, Harden and Leonard had their moments and the potential moving forward.

“I feel it is only a nice steadiness,” George said. “Honestly, after we’re getting in spurts and all people makes an imprint on the sport, it is powerful to match up with us. And I feel we confirmed that once more, glimpses of what it appears to be like like after we’re linked and we simply acquired the job accomplished.”