Clippers’ Paul George ‘Knew’ Harden, Westbrook Rockets Pairing Would Work

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The Houston Rockets are third in the Western Conference largely because of the new backcourt pairing of James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Paul George, who was Westbrook’s running mate in Oklahoma City from 2017-2019, told reporters on Friday that he had a hunch the new Houston partnership would excel:

“I knew it was going to work. […] Russ wants to win, Russ does whatever it takes to win. My time playing with him, Russ doesn’t really have an ego. He puts his ego to the side. He allowed me to be myself, he allowed me to be comfortable. And I had one of the best career [years] I had while playing alongside him. Russ is a heckuva teammate.”

Harden and Westbrook, who were teammates on the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009-2012, just led the Rockets (11-4) on an eight-game winning streak before losing at the Denver Nuggets 105-95 on Wednesday. 

They’ll face off against George and the Clippers on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

An offseason of upheaval featuring some of the game’s biggest stars has largely proved fruitful. 

The Thunder’s trade of Westbrook to the Rockets has given Houston a near-impossible backcourt to defend.

George, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers are 10-5 despite the two new co-stars only playing a combined 14 games.

Kemba Walker has led the Boston Celtics to an 11-3 record and second place in the Eastern Conference after signing a four-year deal.

And most notably, the 12-2 Los Angeles Lakers sport the league’s best record following the acquisition of six-time All-Star Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.

The only exception may be the 6-8 Brooklyn Nets; however, Kevin Durant is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles suffered in the 2019 NBA Finals, and Kyrie Irving has missed three straight games with a shoulder injury. He also played hurt before sitting.

The NBA playoffs could be a titanic battle featuring familiar faces on new teams, and Friday’s matchup between the Rockets and Clippers may be a preview.                  

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