James Harden scores his 25,000th point, leads streaking Clippers past slumping Warriors 121-113

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Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden brings the ball up during the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Golden State Warriors, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

LOS ANGELES – James Harden scored his 25,000th career point while racking up a season-high 28 points, 15 assists and seven rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard added 27 points and eight rebounds in the Los Angeles Clippers' sixth straight victory, 121-113 over the slumping Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.

Norman Powell scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter for the Clippers, who overcame Paul George's first injury absence of the season for their 11th win in 14 games. Los Angeles adroitly held off the Warriors' late surge and improved to 5-0 at home in December.

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“That’s what James does,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “PG was out tonight, so (Harden) raised his level of play. Having the ball more, he had to create more and make more plays for himself and his teammates. That’s what we brought him here for, and it was a huge game from him.”

Harden became the 24th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points on a driving layup late in the third. The veteran has fit in quickly with the Clippers, shooting a strong percentage while adjusting his overall game to fit alongside Leonard and George, who sat out with a left hip injury.

“Doesn’t matter if I got two points or (28) tonight, winning is the key,” Harden said. “The stats and everything — I’ve done a lot of different things, accomplished a lot of different individual stats. For me, it’s about winning, about building chemistry, about continuing to get better, and I think tonight was another step forward for us as a unit.”

Klay Thompson scored a season-high 30 while hitting eight 3-pointers for Golden State, which went 0-3 on its road trip and has lost 12 of 16 overall in a tumultuous season that got even rockier this week.

Stephen Curry scored 17 points on 5-of-17 shooting as the Warriors began another potentially lengthy stint without Draymond Green, who is indefinitely suspended after smacking Phoenix's Jusuf Nurkic in the face on Tuesday.

“It was tough, because Draymond is a huge part of what we do, and we’re going to miss him dearly,” Thompson said. “We know he’s going to come back even better, a changed person. I’ll miss him just as a friend and a brother. Love him to death, and I can’t wait until he comes back. Obviously there’s a big hole on our team right now, but we’re going to do the best we can in his absence and keep playing our hardest.”

Before the game, Golden State coach Steve Kerr emphasized the team's support for the suspension and for Green, who will be getting unspecified help to address his escalating recent instances of misbehavior and overly aggressive play. The four-time NBA champion and defensive whiz has been suspended four times in 2023 alone.

“He can’t do what he’s been doing, and he knows that,” Curry said. “We know that. Everybody knows that. What needs to change, I think that’s the search for the answer. That’s the journey that we’re on now. ... Everybody has their mountains to climb, and Draymond’s are his, and I’m confident that he can get over the hump, however long it takes for him to get there.”

Both teams shook up their regular starting lineups due to key absences. Golden State promoted Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski to replace Green and Andrew Wiggins, while Amir Coffey moved into George's starting role.

Podziemski had four points on 2-for-11 shooting in the rookie's first career start, while Kuminga scored 15 points in his second start of the season.

Thompson is off to a quiet start, but the veteran sharpshooter put on a vintage performance in his native Southern California. He hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter to keep the Warriors in it, but Curry and Thompson combined for 1-for-7 shooting in the fourth.

Chris Paul scored 12 points against his former team for the Warriors, who have lost seven straight road games, including two this month to the Clippers. Paul was also whistled for a Flagrant Foul 1 in the second quarter when he knocked down Daniel Theis with a two-hand shove while blocking out under the Clippers rim.

Paul hit a 32-footer at the third-quarter buzzer to trim the Clippers' lead to six points, and the Warriors got within one early in the fourth quarter before promptly going scoreless for the next three minutes.


Warriors: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday.

Clippers: Host the New York Knicks on Saturday.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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