The Los Angeles Clippers snapped a six-game losing streak since acquiring James Harden in a blockbuster trade, securing a thrilling victory against the Houston Rockets. In the dying seconds of the game, Harden's four-point play proved to be the decisive moment, propelling the Clippers to a 106-100 win.
Amidst the intense final possession, Kawhi Leonard initially took charge but was cut off by Jabari Smith, forcing a pass back to Harden. With his signature flair, Harden executed a vintage play, sinking the shot that ultimately sealed the victory. Leonard praised Harden as one of the greatest players in NBA history and acknowledged his trust in him during the pivotal moment.
Harden showcased his skills with 24 points on an impressive 8-of-11 shooting, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. Additionally, he contributed nine rebounds and seven assists, leading the Clippers with a plus-21 point differential during his 34 minutes on the court. Notably, this marked the first time Harden achieved a positive point differential since joining the Clippers.
The scoring load was well-distributed among the Clippers' star trio, as Leonard finished with 26 points and Paul George added 23. In an unexpected move, Russell Westbrook came off the bench for the first time in a Clippers uniform, scoring eight points in 17 minutes. Westbrook's decision was aimed at facilitating better cohesion in the starting lineup with Harden's inclusion. While it remains early to assess the impact of this adjustment, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue expressed optimism about building upon this victory.
The win also marked the Clippers' first triumph in the In-Season Tournament, positioning them at a 1-2 record in Group B of the Western Conference. With an overall record of 4-7 for the season, the victory provides a much-needed boost to the team's morale and confidence.
On the other hand, the Rockets, who have been the surprise team of the season thus far, faced disappointment as they fell to 6-4 overall and 1-1 in the In-Season Tournament's Group B. The loss serves as a reminder of the challenges they still need to overcome as the season progresses.
Overall, the Clippers' victory not only breaks their losing streak but also showcases the potential of their newly formed roster. As they continue to fine-tune their rotations and build chemistry, the team aims to make further strides and turn their season around.