The LA Clippers grabbed a much needed 106-100 win at home against the Houston Rockets behind a game-winning shot from James Harden.


On the heels of a six-game losing streak, the Clippers came into Friday’s night’s in-season tournament game against the Rockets very much in need of a win. Ever since James Harden made his Clipper debut, the offense has looked clunky and disorganized while the defense hasn’t been much better.

Another glaring issue has been the Clippers lack of size in the wake of Mason Plumlee’s injury. Both of those issues were remedied heading into the Rockets game.

Earlier in the day a lineup change was announced with Russell Westbrook moving to the bench in order to have the starters get into more of a comfortable offensive flow with Harden as the primary ball-handler. The Clippers also announced that backup big man Daniel Theis had cleared waivers and would be available immediately.

While Theis was decent in the minutes he played, the main focus of the game was how the starters played minus Westbrook. They came out with a great focus and energy in the first and third quarters and closed out the game well.

What didn’t run so smoothly was the Clippers bench rotations. If this is going to be the starting lineup from here on out, the next focus becomes finding a working combination with the second unit.

“I thought it was pretty good, I thought we got off to a good start,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said following the game. “Now we got to make sure that off the bench we have the right rotations and the right minutes and the right fit. This is our first game trying to do it, but we’ll get a feel for this one, but it’s better to be able to win than lose.”

This ended up being Harden’s best game since joining the Clippers. He was masterful all game long as the point guard and primary ball-handler. He acted as a playmaker finding guys for easy buckets while picking and choosing his own scoring opportunities.

He finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and hit the biggest shot of the game: and and-one three-point dagger with six seconds remaining in the game.

“He’s starting to get his legs underneath him, being able to make passes, make reads, and I think the game is slowing down a little bit for him as well,” Lue said of Harden. “It’s still going to be a process. It was a big win for us, we definitely needed it, but it’s something to build up off of. We still got to get better, we know that and so we got to continue to keep putting the work in.”


-Russell Westbrook was decent in his first game off the bench in a Clippers jersey. He finished with eight points, three rebounds, and three assists. It’s still going to be a work in progress, but there were encouraging signs. He’s going to be key to having bench stability and not allowing leads to evaporate as they did when the bench came in against the Rockets.

-Terance Mann moving to the starting lineup was just as big as Westbrook moving to the bench. He only finished with one point off a free-throw, but it was everything else he did that showed why Clippers fans have been clamoring for him to be among the starters. He’s a connector; he enables the Clippers to do a lot of different things on the court. If the starting lineup ever changes again this season, Mann should not be the one moving back to the bench.

David Yapkowitz

David Yapkowitz

David is in his sixth season as credentialed media at Los Angeles Clippers games and second season covering the team for 213 Hoops. He also covers the game at the college and high school levels. When his professional basketball dreams did not materialize, he turned to the next best thing, writing about it.

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