NBA Daily Notes: James Harden, Clippers’ Depth, and Lakers’ Outside Shooting

James Harden impressed yet again, but it was another disappointing team result for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Sixers’ disappointing start and other takeaways (October 21)

  • Despite the cold outside shooting and the 90-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, we saw another impressive performance from Sixers star James Harden. He went 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, but he feasted on the Bucks’ defense with his mid-range and floater game. Harden finished with 31 points and nine assists, as he kept the Sixers afloat even with co-star Joel Embiid struggling mightily in the second half.
  • With Embiid firing blanks in the second half, the Sixers saw what they invested in P.J. Tucker. The 6-foot-5 Tucker once again proved why he thrives as a small-ball big, coordinating everyone on defense and helping Harden right the ship in regulation when Embiid took his rest. The 37-year-old bruiser also logged 39 minutes today, showing that he could still play heavy minutes and be effective at it.
  • It felt like a quiet offensive night for Giannis Antetokounmpo — only five free throw attempts (averaged 11.4 last season) — but he still led the Bucks in points (21) and assists (8). It’s on the defensive end that Giannis held the fort for the Bucks, partnering with Brook Lopez to protect the rim against the Sixers. The Greek Freak hauled down 13 rebounds and rejected three shots, including this one against Embiid.
  • The Battle of L.A. ended with a Clippers’ 103-97 win over the Lakers. The Clips’ depth was on full display in the win, with six of their players scoring in double digits. Even in limited minutes, Kawhi Leonard showed why he’s a very good basketball player when healthy. John Wall, who battled through multiple major injuries in recent years, looked great in his first Clippers game. He shot a team-high 15 attempts and finished with 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists. Ivica Zubac was a tower of power tonight, tallying 14 points, 17 boards, and 5 blocks in the win.
  • The end result was the same, but the Lakers played better today than they did a couple of nights ago against the Warriors. Their defense showed positive signs, forcing the Clippers to commit 21 turnovers and coming up with key stops in the closing minutes. But the outside shooting is still at a low — hitting only 20% of your 45 total threes won’t get the job done. The Lakers had a lot of makeable shots from deep, some of which are wide-open opportunities, but they failed to take advantage of what the Clippers’ defense gave them.
  • Lonnie Walker IV and Juan Toscano-Anderson stood out among the Lakers’ role players tonight. Walker topscored with 26, and he was a ball of energy on both ends of the floor. JTA didn’t come close to Walker’s scoring output, but he made several smart plays on offense that helped put the Lakers in striking distance in the fourth quarter. It’s early in the season, but Walker and JTA are making their case for year-round spots in the Lakers’ rotation.

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