James Harden hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer while getting fouled sending the LA Clippers to their first victory since his arrival and snapping their six-game losing streak with a 106-100 win over the Houston Rockets on Friday night in the NBA In-Season Tournament.
Harden dramatically drew the foul from Jae’Sean Tate and drilled his vintage 26-footer from atop the key with six seconds to play before completing the four-point play to secure the win for the Clippers, who had lost their first five games since acquiring Harden from Philadelphia.
Harden had a season-high 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against the Rockets, his team for nine seasons from 2013-21. George added 23 points and eight rebounds.
Alperen Sengun had 23 points and eight rebounds for the Rockets, whose six-game winning streak ended because they allowed the Clippers to finish the game on a 12-1 run.
Jalen Green added 20 points and Fred VanVleet had 19 points and 10 assists for Houston in the opener of a three-game California road trip.
Russell Westbrook had eight points in just 17 minutes after coming out of the Clippers’ starting lineup at Westbrook’s suggestion in an attempt to balance their rotation. The changes appeared to help for stretches, but Los Angeles still struggled to pull away until their stars took charge late.
The Clippers got their first victory in three tournament games, while the Rockets dropped to 1-1 in tournament play.
Neither team managed to hold a substantial lead. Houston was up 99-94 with 2:02 left, but George’s driving layup trimmed the lead to one point before Harden drove and dished to Ivica Zubac for a go-ahead dunk in the final minute.
Sengun made one of two free throws to tie it 100-100 after Leonard fouled him with 29 seconds to play.
Dillon Brooks got another night of enthusiastic boos in the city where his insults of LeBron James did nothing to slow the second-seeded Grizzlies’ swift playoff exit last spring. Westbrook laughed in Brooks’ face after Brooks fouled the former Lakers guard on a dunk attempt in the first half.
Before the game, the Clippers signed big man Daniel Theis, who had two points and three rebounds in his debut. The German veteran, waived by Indiana earlier in the week, will be a backup big man with Mason Plumlee sidelined by a sprained knee.
Rockets: At Lakers on Sunday.
Clippers: At San Antonio on Monday.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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