Clippers use Harden's 21-point quarter in win over Wizards but lose Westbrook to broken hand

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — James Harden scored 21 of his 28 points in the second quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Washington Wizards 140-115 on Friday night.

“James, he plays the game the right way,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said. “Takes what the defense gives him, and that’s what great players do. A slow start doesn’t deter them from being aggressive and doing what they do.”

Kawhi Leonard added 27 points and Paul George scored 22 in his return after missing two games because of a knee injury. The Clippers lost guard Russell Westbrook in the first half after he fractured his left hand.

Westbrook, who had six points and one assist in 10 minutes off the bench, appeared to sustain the injury trying to poke the ball away from Jordan Poole with 10:01 left in the second. Westbrook left with 8:10 remaining in the second quarter and did not return.

“I just feel bad for Russ right now," Lue said. “You never want to see a player get hurt. … I don’t know if he needs surgery or anything yet, but he’s out right now, so just trying to figure it out.”

Kyle Kuzma had 32 points, but the Wizards lost their 14th straight game. Poole had 16 and Deni Avdija chipped in with 14 on the second night of a back-to-back after falling to the Lakers in overtime on Thursday.

“I think we are seeing growth,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. “I think we are doing things better. I think you can see that. We just need to do it for longer and be more consistent with it, but you can see it for stretches. Tonight was just not as much as we wanted.”

Playing their first game since blowing a 19-point fourth quarter lead against the Lakers on Wednesday, the Clippers took out their frustrations on the reeling Wizards.

Harden led the charge in the second quarter by shooting 7 for 9, including knocking down four straight 3-pointers with a long distance heat check for emphasis. He tied his career-high for points in a period, matching his fourth quarter at Indiana on Dec. 18. Harden helped the Clippers go up by as many as 19 before taking a 79-64 lead at halftime.

“These last few games, my 3 ball, I've been putting the work it, it just didn't fall,” Harden said. “If you continue to put the work in, things got to go your way. Tonight was one of those games where I just kept shooting, and it felt good.”

George, who missed home losses to Sacramento and the Lakers, showed no ill effects as he scored 11 points in the first quarter. He had 17 at the half.

Kuzma tried his best to keep Washington in it with a blistering 26 points in the first half. He was 10 for 14 shooting, going 5 for 7 from 3, but didn’t get much help from teammates, especially from long range.

“I thought Kyle tried to really put it on his back to get us back in,” Keefe said. “He just felt the need to kind of step it up for us, and he’s been doing that all year for us.”

UP NEXT

Wizards: At Utah on Monday.

Clippers: At Minnesota on Sunday.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba