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James Harden’s Los Angeles Clippers debut: 4 winners and losers

James Harden made his debut with the Los Angeles Clippers inside the Mecca of the basketball world against the New York Knicks Monday night.

Harden’s debut came after a blockbuster trade from the Philadelphia 76ers last week and sets the stage for an interesting pairing in Southern California.

If Monday night’s game is any indication, it’s going to be very much a work in progress. Starting with fellow future Hall of Famers Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, Harden was decent from a statistical perspective in the 111-97 loss to New York.

Harden is going to continue being a focal point around the NBA after he forced himself from Philadelphia in a very public manner. He’ll be under miscroscope. The Clippers will, too, as they went all in to keep their championship window open.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers from James Harden’s debut with the Clippers and their 14-point loss to New York inside Madison Square Garden.

Related: Scouts conclude James Harden will be a rough fit with the Los Angeles Clippers

Winner: RJ Barrett steps up big time for the New York Knicks

philadelphia 76ers, new york knicks: rj barrett
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A game that saw Jalen Brunson shoot just 2-of-12 from the field also included Barrett stepping up big time for the Knicks. The wing entered Monday night’s game playing extremely well this season, averaging 21.0 points on 43% shooting from three-point range. He continued that in a blowout win over Los Angeles.

Barrett shot 9-of-16 from the field, scoring 26 points while adding six rebounds and four asssists. The Knicks were also plus-13 with Barrett on the court as they moved to a mere 3-4 on the season.

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Loser: Paul George just didn’t have it for the Los Angeles Clippers

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at New York Knicks
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It stands to reason that George would have the hardest time of the Clippers’ core meshing with James Harden. Russell Westbrook played with Harden in both Oklahoma City and Houston. Kawhi Leonard’s all-around ability and demeanor on the court makes it easier for him to welcome in a new talent. We saw that with Westbrook last season.

George just wasn’t good in defeat. Los Angeles finished minus-seven with him on the court. He connected on just 2-of-11 from the field while scoring 10 points and turning the ball over four times. It’s surprising given how well George had played on the young season leading up to Monday night (28.8 PPG, 51% 3-point).

Winner: James Harden looked pretty good for the Los Angeles Clippers

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Philadelphia 76ers
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Harden looked pretty good in limited action after having not seen a real game since the spring. Sure, there were issues with how the Clippers’ offense ran with him on the court. We also saw a lot of isolation throughout the game. But he was vintage Harden at times.

We have to give Harden credit for what he did in 31 minutes of action. The guard scored 17 points on a solid 67% from the field. He also added three rebounds and six assists while turning the ball over just two times. Again, it’s going to take some time for all pieces to mesh. But Harden was not to blame for Los Angeles’ loss Monday night.

Related: James Harden and the top-50 NBA players of 2023-24

Loser: Reckless play from Julius Randle ends Mason Plumlee’s night

NBA: Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Clippers
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For the most part, Randle was good for the New York Knicks Monday night. He scored 27 points while grabbing 10 rebounds in the win.

However, an incident in the second half of the game paints Randle in a bad light. He went to dive for a loose ball and made contact with Plumlee’s knee. The play itself was questionable as all get out.

Shockingly, absolutely no foul was called on the play. Plumlee had to be helped off the court by the Clippers’ training staff and was ruled out for the remainder of the game with a knee sprain. These are plays that the NBA simply must look into.