SACRAMENTO -- After watching Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Paul George play their best game together, Ty Lue opened his postgame news conference on Wednesday night saying that the LA Clippers may have found the blueprint moving forward.
"That's what it should look like, guys," Lue said. "... That's what it should look like right there. Now we got to duplicate it again and again and again."
Harden, who at times looked like he didn't want to shoot, had his most aggressive start as a Clipper, scoring 17 of his season-high 26 in the first quarter. Harden drilled five of eight 3-pointers.
"I think James just wanted to prove to y'all that he is James Harden," Lue said of what got Harden going. "And so he can do that on a nightly basis."
Entering the night, Harden had not taken more than eight shots in any of his previous four games and wasn't shooting much in fourth quarters.
"It's not even about the fourth quarter," Harden said. "It's about the entire game. It's just me knowing what the hell I'm supposed to be doing and doing it."
Harden said he had not paid attention to what people say about his lack of shooting as he continues to find his way with his new team.
"This is the first time I've heard that," Harden said. "I don't really -- I live in like the real world to where I control what I can control, focus on what I got to do every single day and that's all I can control."
Leonard had his best two-way game of the season with 34 points, nine rebounds and two blocks and George added 19 points and seven assists.
Lue was disgusted after the Clippers lost to a Denver Nuggets team without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon at home on Monday. They watched as two former Clippers -- point guard Reggie Jackson (35 points and 13 assists) and big man DeAndre Jordan (21 points) -- connect on several alley-oops in a 113-104 loss to Denver.
But on Wednesday, the Clippers took care of the ball (five individual turnovers), had key contributions from role players like Ivica Zubac and Terance Mann and held the Kings, who won an emotional in-season tournament game over the rival Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, to only 37% shooting in the first half. While De'Aaron Fox scored 40, Domantas Sabonis was held to 11 points while the rest of the Sacramento starters scored just 34 points combined.
The only sour note for the Clippers was the sight of Norman Powell limping out of the arena after Harrison Barnes was fouled and slid backward into Powell's knee. Lue said Powell will be reevaluated on Thursday.
The Clippers have largely remained healthy with Leonard looking as explosive as he has all season, throwing down a dunk on JaVale McGee before converting an impressive double-pump reverse layup on the baseline in the second half. Leonard has now played in all 17 games this season, his most consecutive regular-season contests within a campaign since 2016. He has an opportunity to complete his third set of back-to-backs on Thursday at Golden State.
"I mean it was years trying to get through that wall," Leonard said of getting himself physically to overcome knee issues and surgeries. "I've been dealing with this right knee injury for a while, since 2016-17, even going through the Raptors' [championship] run, that being my first year going so far [in the playoffs with knee issues], just put another toll on it.
"Now I feel good coming out of games and I don't feel anything. So just want to keep going and that's my goal is just to stay healthy and the rest will play itself out."