James Harden had a poor start to his life in Los Angeles. The Clippers have lost all their three matches since acquiring the superstar point guard. However, Harden played in two of those three games. The Clippers were dominated by the New York Knicks 100-93 while they lost to his former team Brooklyn Nets 111-93 with Harden present on the lineup in both games.
There are several on-court issues for the Clippers. The chemistry is all over the place between Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Russell Westbrook and Paul George which many people expected. The issues were addressed by Harden as he took full responsibility for their recent defeat against the Nets. The former MVP recorded 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five turnovers.
“Individually for me, I just got to be a little bit better, strong with the basketball,” Harden told reporters. “Other than that, we had opportunities the last two games, it came down to the fourth quarter, whether it’s a tie game or one-possession game. Tonight was on me as far as letting the ball get away.”
The veteran guard committed three turnovers in the fourth quarter which became detrimental in a close game. The Nets took a five-point lead in that period and eventually, the Clippers lost by a seven-point margin. Overall the Clippers committed 15 turnovers leaking 16 points.
The Clippers have a weird fit as Leonard and George are close to their prime and are the protagonists in this team. Westbrook and Harden are mostly elite facilitators as they aren’t at the same level that they were five years ago.
Westbrook and Harden are not the same players who could drop 30 on a night and win their team games singlehandedly. Although they have great reliability with the ball at hand, it is the defence that makes things worse for the Clippers. They can only use one of the two guards at one point and it has raised issues among the Clippers dressing room.
Harden playing kills the space on the floor as he takes most of the ball while Westbrook is the inferior three-point shooter of the two. However, the Beard has not been given that role where he is allowed to take long-range shots freely.
All of this has reduced touches for George and Leonard hence reducing their attacking impact Against the Nets, LA’s star quartet combined to shoot only 38% (24-of-63), including 6-of-26 from deep. They attempted a combined 12 free throws. George dropped in eight free throws, while Leonard and Harden completed two apiece. Westbrook finished with none.