George, Westbrook reunite as Clippers host Rockets
After playing with Kawhi Leonard for the first time, Paul George will have another first encounter Friday when the Los Angeles Clippers host his former teammate Russell Westbrook and the Houston Rockets.
George spent two seasons with Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder before George requested a trade to the Clippers to join forces with Leonard. That move triggered the Thunder's deal to send Westbrook to Houston.
George and Leonard made their anticipated debut together Wednesday in a 107-104 overtime victory over the Boston Celtics. Although the Clippers struggled throughout the contest, George and Leonard played vital roles in the outcome.
Despite the win, Leonard said it would take time before he and George started to jell. Injuries kept them out of the lineup together for the initial 14 games. George missed the first 11 games after completing his rehab for surgery on both shoulders, while Leonard was sidelined the previous three with a knee contusion.
"It was pretty much just finding each others' spots and knowing the plays," Leonard said. "It's still tough; we're both on a minutes restriction, so it's hard to get a flow. Just repetition. That's what we need right now."
George had 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds in the win. He also hit the go-ahead bucket for the Clippers, who got a team-high 27 points from Lou Williams.
Leonard finished with 17 points on 7-of-20 shooting, including 3 of 10 on 3-pointers. However, he delivered one of the game's top defensive plays by blocking Kemba Walker's 3-point attempt at the final horn. Leonard also had a highlight dunk over Boston's Daniel Theis in the fourth quarter.
The Clippers got an inspired effort by Patrick Beverley, who had a career-high 16 boards to go along with 14 points and seven assists.
"He literally single-handedly willed that game with his effort, his rebounds, making plays," Clippers coach Doc Rivers told the Los Angeles Times. "He was phenomenal."
The Rockets had their eight-game winning streak, which included a Nov. 13 win over the Clippers, snapped Wednesday night in a 105-95 loss at the Denver Nuggets.
James Harden finished with 27 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in the loss, but also committed eight turnovers. Westbrook had 25 points but hit just 8 of 22 field goals. Clint Capela added 21 rebounds and 12 points.
Denver used several defenders to slow Harden.
"They just double team every possession," Harden said. "They got lucky, they got away with one. We didn't execute how we needed to. I think we allowed them too many points off our turnovers. ... Defensively, we just have to be better."
Harden, who had a run of eight straight games with 36 points or more end, leads the league in scoring at a sizzling 38.4 points per game.
In their last meeting, Harden torched the Clippers for 47 points. That caused Westbrook to mock Beverley, with whom he has a long-running feud, since the Clippers guard was one of the primary defenders attempting to contain Harden.
"Pat Bev trick y'all man, like he playing defense," Westbrook said. "He don't guard nobody, man. It's just running around, doing nothing."
--Field Level Media
Updated November 22, 2019