Just hours after signing his five-year, $80 million contract extension, Rockets guard James Harden showed that he deserved it in Houston’s 105-96 victory over the Pistons.
In Detroit’s home opener, the former Thunder star reserve had a record-setting performance, tallying 37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals and a block. He came up with shot after shot in the fourth quarter, helping the Rockets pull away after falling behind by 10+ points in the final frame.
Houston’s other big offseason acquisitions, Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik, had 12 points and eight assists and 12 points and nine rebounds, respectively. The duo shot a 10-of-18 combined from the field, also.
On the Detroit side, Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe paced the team in the back-and-forth contest. Knight scored 15 points (on 15 shots, though), dished out four assists and grabbed four rebounds, while Monroe had a solid all-around performance of 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Kyle Singler and Kim English, two players that were expected to contribute but maybe not this early, both had solid NBA debuts against the Rockets. The rookies each made two three-pointers and provided solid defense, sparking several runs that helped either put the Pistons on top or keep them close.
Some statistics that stood out in this opening-night loss:
- Dribble penetration killed the Pistons, plain and simple; Houston scored 50 points in the paint and had 12 offensive rebounds. Too often the Rockets brought the ball up and scored easily on back-door cuts and drives to the hoop.
- The Pistons shot 77% from the free-throw line, much improved from the preseason. When given the opportunity to score points without any opposition, you have to take advantage. Rodney Stuckey in particular did well, shooting 7-of-8 when he realized his offense was off – he shot 1-0f-10 from the field.
- Neither team took particularly good care of the ball, with Detroit coughing it up 16 times and 20 times for Houston. Eight Pistons had at least one steal, while Lin and Harden each swiped four passes.
The Pistons will continue their season Friday on the road, as they take on the Suns. Phoenix is coming off an 87-85 loss to the Golden State Warriors in their first game without Steve Nash since 2004. Check back here for a preview tomorrow!