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Los Angeles Clippers guard James Harden expressed a positive outlook Tuesday night despite L.A.’s record dipping to 0-5 since acquiring him from the Philadelphia 76ers.
After the Clippers fell 111-108 to the reigning NBA champion Denver Nuggets in an in-season tournament game, Harden said the following, per Michael Kelly of the Associated Press: “I kept reiterating, I didn’t have a training camp or a preseason, so kind of learning on the fly. Also getting myself into James Harden shape. Tonight was definitely another step in the right direction and just keep improving.”
James Harden after the Clippers 6th straight loss: <br><br>”I keep reiterating that I didn’t have a training camp or a preseason so I’m kind of learning on the fly for a new team. Also getting myself into James Harden shape and game shape is very important.”<a href=”https://t.co/rljfbF7723″>pic.twitter.com/rljfbF7723</a>
Harden finished with a season-high 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting in the loss, plus four assists and two rebounds.
The Clippers landed Harden, P.J. Tucker and Filip Petrusev from the Sixers on Oct. 31 in exchange for Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, KJ Martin, two first-round picks, two second-round picks and a pick swap.
Harden’s trade request had been one of the biggest stories of the NBA offseason, and while the 76ers entered the regular season with Harden on the roster, he did not report to the team, causing Philly to expedite the trade process.
With reigning NBA MVP Joel Embiid and rising star Tyrese Maxey leading the way, the Sixers are off to a hot start and are tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference at 8-2.
As for the Clippers, they are just 3-7, which is tied for the third-worst record in the Western Conference.
Since a 3-1 start, the Clips have lost six in a row overall, including five straight since Harden made his team debut in a 111-97 loss to the New York Knicks on Nov. 6.
As Harden mentioned, he did not appear in any preseason games during his squabble with the 76ers, and he was barely present for training camp either.
That means the 10-time All-Star, three-time NBA scoring champion and one-time NBA MVP is well behind most other players when it comes to preparation, which could be part of the reason for his slow start.
Harden is averaging just 15.0 points per game, which would be his worst scoring output since his second NBA season with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2010-11 if it holds up over a full season.
He is also averaging just 4.2 assists per game after averaging over 10 per game in each of the previous three seasons, including a league-leading 10.7 last season.
Ultimately, head coach Ty Lue is seemingly still figuring out how Harden fits alongside his other star veterans, such as Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook.
Tuesday was perhaps a step in the right direction since the Clippers played arguably the best team in the NBA down to the wire, but they are clearly still searching for their identity as a team.
However, Harden has been more efficient than usual as a shooter, converting 47.1 percent of his field goal attempts, which is well above his career mark of 44.2 percent.
First appeared on bleacherreport.com