NBA regular season

James Harden set for Clippers debut vs Jalen Brunson, Knicks

Reuters

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James Harden set for Clippers debut vs Jalen Brunson, Knicks

NEW TEAM. James Harden of the Los Angeles Clippers.

Los Angeles Clippers Instagram page

Bannered by stars Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Russell Westbrook, the Clippers are the latest franchise hoping James Harden will be the missing piece for a championship-caliber super team

The James Harden Show returns to New York on Monday, November 6 (Tuesday, November 7, Manila time).

But the New York Knicks are more concerned with ensuring they are more than the Jalen Brunson Show.

Harden will make his 2023-24 debut Monday, when he and the Los Angeles Clippers visit the Knicks in the first clash of the season between the teams.

The Clippers have been off since Wednesday, when they fell to the host Los Angeles Lakers, 130-125, in overtime. The Knicks dropped their opener in the NBA’s in-season tournament Friday, 110-105, against the host Milwaukee Bucks.

Harden, who was acquired from the Philadelphia 76ers in a three-way deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, watched from the sidelines Wednesday as the Clippers’ 11-game winning streak against their Los Angeles rival ended.

The Clippers, who will add Harden to a starting lineup that includes stars Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook, are the latest franchise hoping Harden will be the missing piece for a championship-caliber super team.

But Harden played a total of just 159 games for the Brooklyn Nets and 76ers since January 2021. He said Thursday that he felt limited for Philadelphia last season, when he averaged 21 points per game – his fewest since his third year in the league – but led the NBA with 10.7 assists per game while collecting five triple-doubles.

“When I’m on a leash, I’m not meaning (I want to) shoot the basketball every time,” Harden said. “I meant like I think the game and I’m a creator on the court, so if I’ve got a voice to where I can (say) ‘Hey, coach, I see this, what do you think about this?’ then it’s all okay. Someone that trusts me or believes in me and understands me that I’m not a system player, I am a system.”

Harden has averaged 27.3 points and 8.1 assists in 29 career games against the Knicks, whom he victimized for 61 points while playing for the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden on January 23, 2019. He also had 53 points for the Rockets against New York on December 31, 2016.

Brunson flirted with a 50-point effort Friday, when he was 17 of 30 from the field while finishing with 45 points, 3 shy of his career-high. The 40-point game was the fifth for Brunson since he joined the Knicks prior to last season, tied for the second-most by a guard in franchise history.

But the rest of the Knicks combined for just 60 points while shooting 21 of 66 (31.8%) from the field Friday, when shooting guard RJ Barrett missed his second straight game with a sore left knee.

“Just got to continue to stick together, fight through a little bit of adversity right now,” Brunson said.

Julius Randle’s early-season struggles continued as he scored 16 points while going 5 of 20 from the field. Randle – who averaged 25.1 points per game and shot 45.9% while making his second All-Star team last season – is averaging 13.7 points on 27.1% shooting through six games this year.

“I think I’m just seeing a lot of bodies,” Randle said. “I’m just not in rhythm. Not in rhythm. Everything just seems a little bit off, you just start pressing a little bit.”

“I’ve just got to stay with it. Keep working.” – Rappler.com

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