Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden completed a four-point play to secure his first victory with the franchise, a 104-100 win over the Houston Rockets (6-4) on Friday night at Crypto.com Arena, snapping a five-game streak since arriving to the team.
Harden, 34, would have tied Kawhi Leonard for the game-high 24 points if it wasn’t for a pair of late free throws that had no further impact on the score. His winning 3-pointer, plus the And-1, was what sealed the victory.
Clippers had gone 0-5 since getting acquiring Harden from the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the month. This was the first time that Russell Westbrook was not on the starting lineup since his arrival.
Westbrook, 35, reportedly volunteered to come off the bench and it worked wonders for the starters.
Leonard, 32, led all scorers with 26 points, while Paul George put up 23 and Ivica Zubac managed a dozen.
Russell Westbrook is the ultimate team player
While Westbrook’s sacrifice allowed the team to shine, he only scored eight points in 17 minutes of action, though six of them were in the fourth quarter.
Westbrook shot 2-for-9 from the field, 2-for-6 from deep and added three rebounds and two assists. Each starter had over six boards apiece.
Harden, however, led the team with seven assists and a game-high nine rebounds. The challenge now is to be consistent.
Clippers (4-7) managed to get their first victory of the 2023 NBA In-Season Tournament, but are most likely eliminated since there’s only one Group Stage match left to play.