Clippers Stumble Again: Harden Struggles Continue as Grizzlies Secure Victory

In a haunting déjà vu, the Los Angeles Clippers found themselves in a familiar situation on Sunday, facing the Memphis Grizzlies at home with a 0-3 record since acquiring former MVP guard James Harden. Reminiscent of the previous season’s struggles, the Grizzlies were missing key players, including star point guard Ja Morant, and established a double-digit lead entering the fourth quarter.

Mirroring their resilience from the past, the Clippers initiated a spirited comeback, knotting the score at 84 with a 16-5 run at the start of the final quarter. However, the script deviated from the prior narrative, as Desmond Bane’s crucial nine points and impactful plays from reserve big men David Roddy and Bismack Biyombo secured a 105-101 triumph for the Grizzlies, marking only their second win of the season.

For the Clippers, the defeat extended their winless streak to 0-4 with Harden in the lineup. The star guard struggled in the loss, tallying 11 points on a 4-of-12 shooting performance, raising concerns about his impact on the team. Notably, the Clippers faced a stark contrast in point differentials, losing by 28 points during Harden’s 29 minutes on the court while winning by 24 points in the 19 minutes he sat out. In the initial four games with Harden, the Clippers have faced a cumulative point deficit of 67 during his playing time.

Clippers coach Ty Lue addressed the need for Harden to assert himself on the court, urging him to embrace a more self-centric approach. “Just play, do your thing,” Lue emphasized, adding, “If you’re doing too much, we’ll let you know.” Harden’s arrival came with the expectation of his distinctive playing style, with the guard asserting, “I’m not a system player, I am a system.”

Despite the early struggles, it’s essential to recognize that the acquisition is still in its infancy, offering the Clippers ample time to integrate Harden into their lineup effectively. However, the initial results have been far from ideal, with the 76ers flourishing since parting ways with Harden while the Clippers continue to search for their first victory post-trade.

As the Clippers embark on a road trip to Denver, they confront the looming specter of a potential 0-5 start, echoing the challenges faced with Russell Westbrook in the previous season. Whether a home encounter against a Morant-less Grizzlies was insufficient to ignite the Clippers remains uncertain, leaving the team grappling with the complexities of integrating their high-profile acquisition.

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