LA Clippers suffer loss at home against underdog opponent

The LA Clippers' James Harden couldn't vanquish his former team last night.
The LA Clippers' James Harden couldn't vanquish his former team last night. / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The LA Clippers seemed to be turning a corner. Sure, they defeated the tanking Trail Blazers in consecutive contests. Still, the NBA is about rhythm and confidence, and the Clippers appeared to have both. 

Now, it looks like they simply beat a tanking team. Last night, the Clippers didn't have much in the way of rhythm of confidence. They lost to the 76ers by a final score of 121-107. 

What happened?

LA Clippers' opponent gets unlikely contribution

Cameron Payne happened.

Payne is a solid rotation guard. He can create offense for himself and his teammates. With that said, the Sixers don't rely on him for star output. 

Last night, Payne looked like a star. He finished with 23 points on 8/15 shooting from the field and 5/10 shooting from long range. Payne also chipped in 5 rebounds and 3 assists. 

He wasn't the only Sixers guard who had a field day. Tyrese Maxey unsurprisingly contributed 24 points - as did forward Tobias Harris. In the end, this Sixers core was firing on all cylinders. 

Why couldn't the Clippers respond?

LA Clippers star stifled by opponent

Paul George managed just 18 points in this one. At 7/15 from the field, his efficiency was acceptable. Still, George struggled in a way that the numbers don't reflect. When his primary actions weren't successful, George struggled to create. He was often caught overdribbling and struggled to be decisive. 

Kawhi Leonard was no better. He had 20 points on 7/16 shooting. Leonard's three-ball simply was not falling last night - he was 1/6 from three-point range. 

Norman Powell was impressive with 20 points on 7/11 shooting. If one more Clippers star had stepped up, they may have wrestled victory from the Sixers. 

What happened to James Harden? 

LA Clippers' opponent spoils star's reunion

This was the first time Harden saw the Sixers since he requested a trade from them earlier in the season. 

He didn't necessarily wilt under pressure. Harden had 14 assists to go with just 2 turnovers. His playmaking was impressive. 

Unfortunately, he struggled to put the ball in the basket. Harden had 12 points on 5/13 shooting from the field. Sure, his stat line was solid in the aggregate, but given George and Leonard's struggles, the Clippers needed Harden to score. 

He couldn't. Now, the Clippers need to turn a corner - again.