Houston at Detroit

Harden shines, Rockets top Pistons

CBSSports.com wire reports
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- James Harden agreed to a big new contract extension -- and he certainly looked worth it in his first game with the Houston Rockets.

Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in a stirring debut for his new team, and Carlos Delfino made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Rockets to a 105-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

Detroit led 83-72 early in the fourth, but Harden and Delfino brought the Rockets back. Houston acquired Harden on Saturday night in a trade with Oklahoma City and agreed Wednesday on a five-year, $80 million contract extension with him.

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"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."

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year fell just short of his career high of 40 points, and his 12 assists were a career best. Not bad for a guy still adjusting to new teammates and a new situation.

Harden started only seven games in three seasons in Oklahoma City, as he developed into an indispensable reserve. But he was in the starting lineup Wednesday and looked ready to play a bigger role with Houston.

"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."

Jeremy Lin, Houston's other big acquisition, had 12 points and eight assists. The Rockets won without Patrick Patterson, who was out with a left quad strain.

Brandon Knight led Detroit with 15 points.

With Houston down 11 points, Harden started the comeback with a 3-pointer, and Greg Smith followed with a dunk. Detroit led only 85-83 after consecutive 3-pointers by Delfino, then a layup by Chandler Parsons tied it.

Smith dunked to put the Rockets ahead 89-87, and he dunked again to make it a four-point game before hobbling off with what he later said was a minor left foot injury. By then, Houston was already taking control of the game behind its two new playmakers, Harden and Lin.

"They're very smart players. You've got to give credit to them," Smith said. "They know what they're doing on the court. They're very intelligent."

A dunk by Detroit's Jonas Jerebko cut the lead to two, but Delfino made two more 3-pointers to make it 97-89.

Harden pretty much put the game away with a three-point play with 1:27 remaining that put Houston ahead 104-94.

"They keep it so simple as far as just spreading it out and letting him create," Detroit's Rodney Stuckey said. "Pick and rolls, that's pretty much what got us. They did a good job of spreading us out. He was getting in the lane, making shots and finding his teammates and they were making shots, too."

Attendance was announced at 16,646 at the Palace, and there were plenty of empty seats on Halloween. The fans who did turn out saw an entertaining performance by the Pistons that ultimately fell short.

Harden scored 19 points in the first half, but Detroit led 58-55 after a 36-point second quarter.

"I thought it was a challenge for James to kind of figure out what we were doing," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We put some plays in that he was comfortable with that they ran at Oklahoma City."

The Rockets led 65-58 after Harden's two-handed dunk off a nice one-handed bounce pass from Lin. The Pistons looked terrific for the rest of the quarter. They scored 13 straight points - including consecutive dunks by Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell - to take a 71-65 lead.

A 3-pointer by Harden cut the deficit to two, but Detroit ran off another eight straight points and led 79-69 following a basket by Kyle Singler.

It was 81-72 after three quarters.

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James Harden falls just short of his career high of 40 points, but his 12 assists are a career best. (Getty Images)
James Harden falls just short of his career high of 40 points, but his 12 assists are a career best. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
Houston (1-0) «27281733105
Detroit (0-1)2236231596
HOU:J. Harden 37 Pts
HOU:O. Asik 9 Reb
HOU:J. Harden 12 Ast
DET:B. Knight 15 Pts
DET:J. Maxiell 8 Reb
DET:R. Stuckey 6 Ast
Players of the Game
HoustonDetroit

James Harden

Brandon Knight
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
376121544
Houston
J. Harden, SG4414-255-6612237
C. Parsons, SF423-94-576311
J. Lin, PG355-122-248412
O. Asik, C335-62-690212
M. Morris, PF263-100-07136
C. Delfino, SG245-60-070315
G. Smith, PF174-42-250510
T. Douglas, PG130-52-20112
D. Cook, SG60-20-00010
D. Motiejunas, PFDid Not Play
C. Aldrich, CDid Not Play
P. Patterson, PFDid Not Play
T. Jones, PFDid Not Play
R. White, PFDid Not Play
S. Machado, PGDid Not Play
Totals 39-7917-23452824105
 49.4%73.9% 
Detroit
R. Stuckey, PG371-107-82609
B. Knight, PG375-154-644015
G. Monroe, C357-130-384414
T. Prince, SF324-94-441012
J. Maxiell, PF244-72-280210
J. Jerebko, SF202-73-34127
K. Singler, SF164-50-020010
K. English, SG143-60-00318
W. Bynum, PG134-60-02249
A. Drummond, PF131-10-02022
C. Maggette, SFDid Not Play
C. Villanueva, PFDid Not Play
A. Daye, SFDid Not Play
K. Middleton, SFDid Not Play
V. Kravtsov, CDid Not Play
Totals 35-7920-2636211596
 44.3%76.9% 
Other Games
Den 75 Final
Phi 84
Ind 90 Final
Tor 88
SA 99 Final
NO 95
Sac 87 Final
Chi 93
Dal 94 Final
Utah 113
GS 87 Final
Pho 85
Mem 92 Final
LAC 101
LAL 106 Final
Port 116