The Los Angeles Clippers are sure that the best days of the James Harden era are still ahead.
After falling to 0-3 with its star acquisition in the lineup, Los Angeles will look to turn things around on Sunday afternoon when it faces the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.
Harden is averaging 14.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists with his new team, most recently supplying 14 points, five rebounds and three assists in an ugly 144-126 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night.
Although he has played alongside stars before, Harden is still trying to find his footing alongside Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook.
“First quarter felt really good on both ends of the ball and then from there it went downhill,” Harden said of the Dallas game. “So trying to find a balance of not trying to step on anyone’s toes, but just trying to still be aggressive and be myself. So it’s a process, but it’s definitely a little frustrating. We do like to win games.”
George isn’t panicking just yet.
“At some point, it’s going to work and nobody’s going to talk about the rotations and guys on the floor and personnel,” George said. “And at some point, we’re going to figure it out.”
Perhaps the Clippers will figure things out against Memphis, which has lost eight of its first nine games to begin the season.
The Grizzlies snapped a season-opening, six-game losing streak by beating the Portland Trail Blazers 112-100 on Nov. 5 but dropped back-to-back contests since.
Memphis most recently fell 127-121 at home against the Jazz on Friday night. Utah attempted 16 more free throws than the Grizzlies, and following the game, frustrations started to boil over for Memphis coach Taylor Jenkins.
“Saddle up. One of the most poorly officiated games I’ve ever seen,” Jenkins said. “Record it. I’m fine with it. (Expletive) atrocious.
“… Our team is competing their (expletive) off. Competing their (expletive) off. And this is what happens? … It’s unbelievable the looks on the faces (of the referees) when I’m trying to engage in conversation to defend our guys that are busting their tail right now.”
One of the biggest things holding the Grizzlies back is the absence of star guard Ja Morant, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season.
Marcus Smart, acquired from the Boston Celtics this past offseason, currently is handling starting point guard duties. He has averaged just 9.6 points, 4.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 34.5 percent from the field over his past five games.
Memphis also is without big man Steven Adams, who was sidelined with a knee injury and underwent season-ending surgery on Wednesday.
Even though the Grizzlies are missing two important pieces, Memphis forward Jaren Jackson Jr. doesn’t see it as an excuse for the brutal start to the season.
“We got to hold down,” Jackson said. “So, it doesn’t matter. Whoever’s out there knows it’s a big responsibility, and we’re trying our best, and you just got to keep giving that same effort, and things will turn around.”
The Clippers took the season series with Memphis in 2022-23, winning two of the three games between the teams.
–Field Level Media
When it comes to the perks Florida Atlantic earned following last season’s run to the Final Four, Tuesday’s ranks pretty high as the 13th-ranked Owls travel to New York to…
No. 10 Tennessee finds itself in an unusual position just seven games into the season — mired in a three-game losing streak. The Volunteers will try to snap that skid…
Tai’Reon Joseph scored 27 points and Bandon Davis had five of his 12 points during a closing 12-0 run as Southern stunned No. 21 Mississippi State 60-59 on Sunday in…
Trying to avoid early-season spiral, No. 10 Tennessee hosts George Mason
Top 25 roundup: Southern stuns No. 21 Mississippi State
Brandon Angel, Stanford blast San Diego
Jamison Battle beats up on old team as Ohio State tops Minnesota