The Norman Transcript

National Sports

November 1, 2012

Harden brilliant in debut for Rockets

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — James Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in a stirring debut for Houston, 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.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year certainly looked worth it in the season opener. Harden fell just short of his career high of 40 points, and his 12 assists were a career best.

Brandon Knight led Detroit with 15 points.

Jeremy Lin, Houston’s other big acquisition, had 12 points and eight assists.

With Houston down 11 points, Harden started the comeback with a 3-pointer, and Greg Smith followed with a dunk.

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

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

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.

Pacers 90, Raptors 88: George Hill scored the go-ahead basket with two seconds left, completing the Pacers’ rally for a season-opening win over the Raptors.

David West scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Paul George had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Pacers, who trailed 84-74 with just under six minutes left. Roy Hibbert added 14 points for Indiana.

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 21 points, and Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his NBA debut. Andrea Bargnani had 16 points, and Jose Calderon added 15 for the Raptors.

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