1. Harden gashes new-look Clippers in spite of illness
Following the 2018-19 season, the LA Clippers made significant changes to their roster. The Clips were crowned the champions of the 2019 offseason, as they added Paul George and 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, which were considerable additions to a team that took the Golden State Warriors to six games in the opening round of the 2019 playoffs.
Both players had been previously named to the All-Defensive teams and were both prior finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award, while Leonard took home the trophy in consecutive seasons between 2014-15 and 2015-16. The Clips already had a tenacious defender in former Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley, who is viewed as arguably one of the best defensive point guards in the league.
This provided the Clippers with a trio that many thought would be impossible to score points against, which is why nearly everyone in the basketball world instantly booked them a spot in the Western Conference Finals. But Rockets Nation knew that the Clips would have to first get past Houston, as the Rockets have consistently been a challenge for the Clippers.
The Rockets have owned the head-to-head matchup against the Clips dating back to the 2014-15 season, as the Rockets have gone 13-12 when the two teams have faced during that span (including the playoffs). During those games, James Harden has averaged 26.4 points on 43.9 percent from the floor, and has turned in a 51-point performance, and a 46-point performance, so Rockets fans were eager to see if the new-look Clippers would be able to stop The Beard.
The two teams first faced off on November 13th, which was the Rockets’ 11th game of the season. Although Paul George didn’t play in the matchup, the game entailed an additional storyline, as it featured the rivalry between current Rockets guard Russell Westbrook and former Rockets guard Patrick Beverley. Harden was the talk of the game though, as he dropped 47 points on 26 shots, and added seven assists and six rebounds.
Harden had a true shooting percentage of 70.2 percent and outscored the entire Clippers’ starting five in the first half by a margin of 22-19. Harden added 17 points in the final period and helped lift the Rockets to a 103-92 victory at home in a nationally televised performance.
After the game, Harden compared his valiant efforts to Michael Jordan’s “flu game.”
Harden dropped 47 sick … modern-day MJ performance ? pic.twitter.com/87vpmPyh9G
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 14, 2019
Although he finished the interview with “I’m just playing”, he was certainly playing around on the Clippers, as they had no answers for Harden. There’s truth to the comparison to Jordan’s flu game, because he outperformed Jordan’s flu game, as Harden’s 47 points and seven assists were both more than Jordan’s 38 points and five assists.