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Paul George, Kawhi Leonard Lead Clippers to Dramatic Win vs. Harden, Rockets

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 23, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers handles the ball against the Houston Rockets on November 22, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers won their fourth straight game in thrilling fashion after defeating the visiting Houston Rockets 122-119 on Friday at Staples Center.

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard hit the game-winning mid-range jumper with 15.4 seconds left to give the Clips a 120-119 edge.

NBA @NBA

@ESPNNBA 🚨 THE CLUTCH GO-AHEAD JUMPER FROM KAWHI! 🚨 #OneMission 119 #ClipperNation 122 1.2 left on ESPN. HOU ball. https://t.co/8HCTUpntq7

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook had an open look from three on the other end in response, but the shot did not go down.

Clippers forward Paul George grabbed the rebound, got fouled and sank both free throws. Houston still had a chance to tie after calling a timeout and inbounding in the Clippers' end with 1.2 seconds left, but three defenders collapsed on James Harden, who could not handle the ball and get a shot off.

Lou Williams, who hit a three-pointer to put the Clips up 118-117, led L.A. with 26 points (all in the second half). Harden, who hit two free throws to then put Houston up 119-118, had 37 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds.

Both teams are now 11-5. The Clippers moved to 10-1 at home. The Rockets lost their second straight game after winning their previous eight.

The game featured the reunion of George and Westbrook, who played alongside each other on the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2017-19. Both were traded in the offseason.

      

Notable Performances

Rockets G James Harden: 37 points, 12 assists, 8 rebounds

Rockets G Russell Westbrook: 22 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds

Rockets C Clint Capela: 17 points, 19 rebounds

Clippers F Kawhi Leonard: 24 points, 6 assists, 3 steals

Clippers F Paul George: 19 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists

Clippers G Lou Williams: 26 points, 8 assists

     

Sign Us Up for Seven Clips vs. Rockets Playoff Games

The early candidate for the game of the year took place as a quartet of the NBA's biggest stars took center stage in Los Angeles with impressive supporting casts. If Friday was any indication, a Clippers-Rockets series would arguably be the most entertaining matchup of the playoffs.

The teams fought tooth and nail during a contest that had the feel of a late May showdown for an NBA Finals berth. It wasn't always pretty—the squads combined for 59 fouls and 34 turnovers—but there's no question both sides left it all out on the floor.

And there were all sorts of subplots.

Westbrook and George faced off for the first time since their OKC days. George and Leonard played together for just the third time.

Clint Capela continues to be a rebounding machine, and he's averaging 20 over his last six games. Harden continued his realistic quest to post the third-highest points-per-game mark in NBA history.

And Williams kept making his case to be a Western Conference All-Star despite being the sixth man.

The teams saved their best entertainment for last thanks to 77 fourth-quarter points, with the Clips dropping 42 to continue their home dominance.

A game that seemed like it would go Houston's way changed quickly in the final minute after back-to-back threes from George and Williams:

LA Clippers @LAClippers

👏 Pro 👏fes 👏 sion 👏 al Scorer 📺@FoxSportsWest | @TeamLou23 https://t.co/ZPcgI7Hycl

The two traded punches down the stretch, first with Harden's free throws and then with the Leonard deuce.

Houston couldn't hit that final bucket in the end, but the Rockets are right there with the Clips, Los Angeles Lakers and the rest of the NBA's elite. If Houston and L.A. meet in the playoffs, fans will be treated to an excellent series.

         

What's Next?

Both teams play at home Sunday.

Houston will begin a three-game homestand at Toyota Center against the Dallas Mavericks at 3:30 p.m. ET. Los Angeles will welcome the New Orleans Pelicans at 9 p.m.

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