In the second game of having their four-best players on the floor, the LA Clippers needed some clutch plays against the Houston Rockets but eventually came out on top for their sixth straight home win.
In a close, neck-and-neck contest, the hosts outscored the Rockets 10-2 in the final minute of regulation courtesy of clutch shots from Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and a pair of free-throws from Paul George.
Behind Kawhi Leonard's game-winning jumper, the @LAClippers outlast Houston in a fantastic finish at @STAPLESCenter! #ClipperNation- NBA (@NBA) November 23, 2019
👀 the best plays down the stretch... pic.twitter.com/UotgIqGjgl
After a fantastic contest that capped off an 11-game slate, here are the biggest takeaways:
The Clippers have played 10 of their 16 games so far in the clutch, coming out on top in seven of them - tied for second-most in the league so far.
Given the players on their roster, this stat should come as no surprise.
Clutch Clippers 😤- SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 23, 2019
Kawhi Leonard (9) and Lou Williams (8) have the most go-ahead FG in the final minute since the start of last season. pic.twitter.com/wZvBx8zo0d
With the Clippers leading 55-51 at the half, Williams had no points, going 0-of-4 from the field in his 13 minutes, though, he caught fire in the second half, going off for 26 points on a super-efficient 9-of-12 shooting from the field.
Against the Boston Celtics, a couple of days earlier, Leonard's clutch block saved the game and in this one against the Rockets, he knocked down the game-winning jumper.
Against the C's, the Clippers' four-best players - Leonard, George, Williams, and Montrezl Harrell played a majority of the last 10 minutes of that game with an impressive net rating of 34.9. It wasn't as good in this one but they still got the win.
For a team that's managing injuries (George and Leonard), these wins, where their best players are on the court together for tough close contests against contenders, are crucial stepping stones.
"We're building. We're building camaraderie. Learning how to trust each other," Williams emphasized in his post-game interview.
🗣 BIG SHOT WILLIAMS, BABY!@TeamLou23 | @MONSTATREZZ pic.twitter.com/bsD5sDrpzV- LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 23, 2019
Paul George, in his first real off-shooting night, nearly recorded a triple-double with 19 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Kawhi Leonard finished with 26 points, six rebounds, three assists, and three steals while Montrezel Harrell contributed 18.
Harden & Capela continue form
James Harden went off for a near triple-double with 37 points (ninth 35+ score in the last 10), 12 assists and eight rebounds. He shot it well, going 9-for-16 from the field (56.3%), while going 3-for-11 from three.
He played a game-high 42 minutes and was a +6 while on the floor but couldn't stop the Rockets from dropping their second-straight game.
Coming into this game, Clint Capela had recorded 20 or more rebounds in five straight games. That streak was snapped but he still reeled in 19 to go with his 17 points, completing his eighth straight double-double.
Russell Westbrook's recent struggles
After playing 34 minutes, Russell Westbrook fouled out late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 points, six assists, and five rebounds, but shot 9-for-22 from the field and 1-for-7 from beyond the arc.
He also committed six of the team's 15 turnovers.
Coming into the season, there was no doubt Westbrook would have a lot of adjusting to do with his new team but shooting and ball control has been a struggle. In 14 games so far, he's shooting 41.5% from the field for the Rockets and 22.0% from beyond the arc while averaging 4.0 turnovers per game.
His last five games have amplified those struggles. In the last five games, he is averaging 21.8 points but it's at 37-for-111 (33.3%) shooting from the field and 22.5% from beyond the arc while committing an average of 3.0 turnovers and 4.4 fouls per game.