Clippers Not Ready To ‘Panic’ About James Harden Fit

James Harden, Los Angeles Clippers, NBA News
NBA Analysis Network

James Harden’s much-anticipated Los Angeles Clippers debut did not exactly go as planned. Los Angeles fell 111-97 to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden as Julius Randle and RJ Barrett combined for 53 points.

Harden played a quiet first game with his new team, posting 17 points on 6/9 shooting with six assists and two turnovers. He also recorded a putrid plus-minus of -18, tied for worst on the team with Ivica Zubac. Last season, the 10-time All-Star averaged 21.0 points and 10.7 assists with Philadelphia.

An ice-cold Paul George made just two shots in 34 minutes, and the Clippers committed 22 team turnovers. Despite the sloppy loss, Clippers head coach Ty Lue remains confident in his new-look squad moving forward.

“It’s gonna be a process,” Lue said in his postgame press conference. “I love the process we’ve gotta go through to get to where we want to get to, and we’re gonna get there for sure … Just trying to keep everyone in rhythm. With four dynamic scorers, it’s tough … I’m not going to panic right now.”

Kawhi Leonard only took 16 shots on a night where George struggled, and Lue addressed it in his presser. Moving forward, Harden should help both Leonard and George find more efficient looks, as well as increased shot attempts. After all, Harden led the NBA in assists per game last season.

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: James Harden, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers Updates

Lue shouted out Harden’s playmaking and acknowledged the importance of his presence for the Clippers.

“I thought overall just orchestrating,” Lue said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Making the right play, making the right pass and pick-and-rolls, he was really good. It’s going to take him a little time to get in game shape. We understand that, but his presence on the floor was definitely felt.”

Harden also seems optimistic about the team and its potential. After his debut, the former MVP spoke with the media about finally playing his first game of the season.

“Unlimited possibilities,” Harden said, per Youngmisuk. “I feel kind of weird out there … Just not really having a preseason game or an opportunity to participate in the full training camp or none of that. It was just [being] out there and just basically winging it. Try to go off my basketball instincts and what I’ve been doing for the last few years or whatnot. I just went out there and playing and thinking the game and trying to make the game easier for everybody else.”

NBA NEWS & RUMORS: James Harden, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers Updates

With several mouths to feed, the Clippers must figure out how to balance their talented pieces as they begin their quest for a maiden NBA championship. They will look to bounce back Nov. 8 on the road against the Brooklyn Nets.

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