June 18, 2024

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Clippers rally behind Harden’s 29 points, to end skid, defeat Hornets, 113-104

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In a bounce-back performance, the Los Angeles Clippers rallied to secure a 113-104 victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, December 27, 2023, Philippine time), ending a two-game losing streak. James Harden played a pivotal role, contributing 29 points, with 20 of them coming in the first half, setting the tone for the Clippers’ resurgence.

The absence of Kawhi Leonard, sidelined with a left hip contusion, had challenged the Clippers in their previous two games. However, Paul George stepped up with an impressive 25 points, and Ivica Zubac’s double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds played a crucial role in the team’s victory.

The Clippers, following a recent nine-game winning streak, had faced adversity with consecutive losses, including a 37-point defeat against the Boston Celtics. Head coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged the challenge but praised his team’s defensive effort in the bounce-back win.

Russell Westbrook, coming off the bench, delivered a strong performance with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists in 28 energetic minutes, helping fill the void left by Leonard’s absence. George emphasized the team’s collective effort in adapting to the situation, stating that it’s collective to take on the load without Kawhi being in there.

The Hornets, on an eight-game losing streak, struggled despite the impressive efforts of Miles Bridges, who scored 21 points with 11 rebounds. Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington added 18 points each for Charlotte. LaMelo Ball’s absence since November 26 due to an ankle injury continued to impact the Hornets, who have a 1-10 record in December.

The Clippers held a lead of up to 10 points in the first half, but the Hornets narrowed the gap to 55-50 at halftime. Despite Los Angeles leading by 10 points in the third quarter, a resilient Charlotte staged a comeback, going on a 26-9 run to lead 91-84 in the fourth quarter.

Displaying a sense of urgency, the Clippers responded with a 19-2 run, including three crucial 3-pointers, to take a 103-93 lead with 3:58 remaining. Zubac’s contributions were significant in this run, contributing six points, including the final four.

Paul George’s 3-pointer with 1:26 remaining solidified the Clippers’ lead at 111-100, ultimately securing the victory. George, along with Harden, showcased their shooting prowess, making a combined 11 three-pointers. As a team, the Clippers shot 41.2% from beyond the arc, finishing 14 of 34.

With a next-man-up mentality, the Clippers displayed resilience, emphasizing their commitment to maintaining momentum regardless of the roster challenges. As Leonard’s return looms, the team remains focused on the collective effort required to navigate challenges and continue their success.

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