James Harden was in the infancy of his Los Angeles Clippers’ tenure back in early November, figuring out the flow with co-stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, when the guard faced the Brooklyn Nets.
Slightly over two months later, Harden and his new cast appear to be a well-oiled machine as the Clippers attempt to reach the halfway point with another win Sunday afternoon when they host the Nets.
On Nov. 8 at Brooklyn, Harden was two games into his tenure with the Clippers after being acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers. He began his time in Los Angeles with a 14-point loss to the New York Knicks on Nov. 6 and then finished with 12 points in a 100-93 loss to the Nets.
Los Angeles would end up losing six consecutive games upon Harden’s arrival, dropping the team to 3-7 on the season. Highlighted by a nine-game winning streak Dec. 2-20, the Clippers are 23-7 in their past 30 games.
Los Angeles is heading into its next-to-last home game before a seven-game road trip and has been idle since Tuesday when it earned a 128-117 home win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. George scored 18 of his season-high 38 points in the fourth quarter and has scored at least 20 points in 14 of his past 15 games.
George came alive down the stretch by scoring 11 of Los Angeles’ final 14 points after the Clippers squandered a 10-point lead going into the fourth. He made 15 of 24 shots in a game where he missed his first six attempts and continued to succeed while playing off the ball while Harden frequently brings the ball up the floor.
The Nets are 5-14 over their past 19 games and attempting to win consecutive games for the first time since sweeping a home-and-home set with the lowly Detroit Pistons last month.
On Friday, the Nets produced one of their best showings all season, especially in the second half, when they earned a 130-112 win over the Los Angeles Lakers two nights after blowing an 11-point lead and losing in the final second on a shot by Anfernee Simons in Portland.
Brooklyn earned the win by outscoring the Lakers 68-44 over the final two quarters after trailing 68-62 at halftime. During halftime, coach Jacque Vaughn showed a clip of Brooklyn’s sub-par defensive effort in the first half when they allowed the Lakers to shoot 53.1 percent. In the second half, they held Los Angeles to 34.1 percent.
Cam Thomas scored 33 points, including 20 in the first half to keep the Nets within striking distance.
Nic Claxton added 22 and 14 rebounds while Spencer Dinwiddie and Mikal Bridges contributed 19 and 17 respectively in a game where the Nets scored at least 130 points for the third time this season. They shot at least 50 percent for the ninth time by hitting at 52.6 percent, third best on the season.