James Harden showed his incredible importance to Clippers in win over Hornets

Harden displayed his value against Charlotte.
James Harden, LA Clippers
James Harden, LA Clippers / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The LA Clippers snapped their two-game losing streak on Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets. In doing so, they picked up their first win of the season without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup as well.

It was far from an easy win against an undermanned Charlotte squad. Even with LaMelo Ball and Mark Williams out for the Hornets, the visitors put up quite a fight, even taking a seven point lead in the second half.

Unlike in recent weeks, the Clippers were not able to simply ride to a win on the back of their best player. With Kawhi in street clothes, it was James Harden that stepped up and played a big part in delivering a win for LA.

In the win over Charlotte, Harden led all scorers for the Clippers with 29 points and eight assists on 50% shooting from three as well as from the field overall. He hit three-pointer after three-pointer to bury the Hornets and took advantage of his matchups.

James Harden's importance to the Clippers was on full display against the Hornets

His performance was indicative of just how valuable he is to the Clippers' winning philosophy. For much of the first four years of the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George era in Los Angeles, the team relied heavily on the play of their two superstars.

However, problems would routinely arise whenever one (or both) of the two inevitably missed time due to injuries. There is no better example of this than the 2021-22 season, where Paul George missed most of the season and Kawhi did not play a single game. As a result, the Clippers barely squeaked into the Play-In and were promptly eliminated.

The talent level on the Clippers' roster and particularly the talent of its ball handlers saw a steep drop off without those two on the floor. Now, with James Harden on the roster, there is always a shot creator and playmaker around to fill in the gaps when inconsistencies crop up.

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This concept speaks once again to the not just the top-level talent, but simultaneously, the depth of the Clippers' roster. The front office has finally created a situation where even when Leonard or George are forced to be away from the court, the team still has the talent to beat quality opponents on a nightly basis.