For most of Friday, the noise around the Clippers stemmed from the news that Russell Westbrook was no longer a starter.
The bigger change, however, was that the Clippers showed Friday they can finally finish.
Leading with 40 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, and tied with 29 seconds to go at Crypto.com Arena, the Clippers gave James Harden the ball and he dribbled against Jae’Sean Tate before stepping back into his signature three-pointer, making the shot while being fouled with six seconds left. Harden’s four-point play gave the Clippers a four-point lead in an eventual 106-100 win to deliver the franchise from its nightmare six-game losing streak that began Nov. 1, the night after the team acquired Harden from Philadelphia.
It was the first Clippers win this season in a game in which the score was within five points in the final five minutes. They had been 0-5 in close games, one of only two teams without a “clutch” win this season.
Afterward, Harden called it “relief” to cheers from the crowd.
The losing streak had tied for the longest of Tyronn Lue’s coaching career. The Clippers improved to 4-7, while Houston’s six-game winning streak ended as the Rockets fell to 6-4.
Harden scored 24 points, with nine rebounds and seven assists. Paul George scored 23 points, with eight rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and eight rebounds.
Westbrook scored eight points in 17 minutes, his fewest in a game since Jan. 2, 2023.