Rockets guard James Harden shoots over Pistons guard Brandon Knight in a 105-96 Houston win Wednesday./US Presswire
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Jeremy Lin, there's an even newer sheriff in town.
James Harden scored 37 points and added a career-high 12 assists in his Houston Rockets debut alongside Lin, giving Detroit Pistons defenders fits in his eighth career start. Harden, traded from the Oklahoma City Thunder last week, signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension Wednesday, then made good on his superstar-sized deal the same day.
The Rockets beat the Pistons 105-96 in both teams' season openers.
Lin added 12 points, eight assists, four steals and four rebounds in his first regular-season action for the Rockets. But this was all about Harden.
"I think I just wanted to get out there and play," Harden said. "All the talking and all the craziness that has been happening this last week - I just wanted to go out there and play basketball."
Houston is gambling Harden, the reigning sixth man of the year, has starter-level talent. He does. Harden played 44 minutes and added four steals and six rebounds to his 14-for-25 shooting night. The offense flowed through him, with Lin serving as a very viable second option.
That's a superstar performance. From a giving superstar.
Harden scored 31 points in the first three quarters but spent the fourth, when Houston stormed back and pulled away, passing. Carlos Delfino, who joined Harden, Lin and Chandler Parsons in playing the final 12 minutes, scored 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the final stanza. Harden had five assists as the Rockets held a 33-15 edge in the quarter.
"I just tried to score and create opportunities," Harden said. "Carlos Delfino came in hot. I just tried to get my bigs involved. A lot of different guys stepped up, and I think that's how it's going to be throughout this entire season."
The other big Rockets addition of the offseason, former Chicago Bulls center Omer Asik, contributed 12 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. He was 5-for-6 from the field, but he didn't need to shoot much more.
Contributing: The Associated Press