The Clippers may have gotten thoroughly demoralized at home by the Rockets, with James Harden taking a bit of a back seat so Chris Paul could deliver sweet vengeance upon his old franchise, but it’s not all doom and gloom for them. How could I say such a thing, you wonder? Take a minute and think, dummy.
Reason one to be positive after this bafflingly lopsided defeat: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander totally picked Harden’s pocket in a one-on-one setting. So much for his MVP candidacy; I don’t think Harden can recover from this, in the same way that Giannis can’t ever recover from getting stepped over by Mario Hezonja
Reason two to be optimistic despite a poor overall performance: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 20 points, a very nice point total for him, and he didn’t rely on his money shot (the pullup midrange jumper) to do it. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life, and he spiced up this game with nice finishes around the rim.
Reason three to be hopeful for the future even though this loss really sucked: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is still a rookie. If he was in his third or fourth year in the league, his improvements year-over-year would mean this 20-point performance is actually a 50-point performance. An extra 30 points wouldn’t have won the game for the Clippers if you just tacked it on to the final score of this one, but circumstances would’ve changed if SGA had been scoring that much, so I think it would still end up as a W.