Rocket Fuel: Harden makes home debut vs. Blazers
You can bet the home crowd will be anxious to catch a glimpse of red-hot James Harden when he makes his Space City debut with the Houston Rockets tonight versus the Portland Trail Blazers.
Acquired in a recent deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Harden has yet to disappoint with his new team and has helped the Rockets to a 2-0 start. He made his Houston debut in a 105-96 win at Detroit, scoring 35 points, and had an encore performance last night against Atlanta.
Harden was a sizzling 14-of-19 shooting in a 109-102 road win and finished with a career-high 45 points. The left-handed Harden made 15-of-17 free throws for the Rockets, who are aiming for their first 3-0 start since 2008-09.
The reigning Sixth Man of the Year has adjusted nicely to his new starting role.
"It's different, it is a lot different," Harden said of starting. "Coming off the bench and not starting, and then having basically the entire offense run through you is a lot different. I just have to get used to it, it is my job now. I have to get going."
Harden may be a bit modest, but he's moving along quite well so far.
Jeremy Lin almost had a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, while Marcus Morris chipped in a career-best 17 points off the bench for Houston.
The Rockets are scheduled to play five of six games at the Toyota Center.
Meanwhile, Portland came back to earth following its season-opening win versus Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Trail Blazers dropped a 106-92 decision last night to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as LaMarcus Aldridge and rookie Damian Lillard scored 22 and 21 points, respectively, and Wesley Matthews added 17 in defeat. Lillard was coming off a debut in which he posted 23 points and 11 assists.
"Oklahoma City is a good defensive team. They made some adjustments I suppose," Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. "Their big guys do a good job protecting the paint and made it difficult to score in the paint. We just couldn't get a rhythm going."
Aldridge also grabbed 15 rebounds and J.J. Hickson added a double-double of his own with 14 points and 12 boards. The Blazers, who made 50.6 percent from the floor versus L.A., shot just 36 percent Friday and made only 9-of-26 from 3-point range.
Portland lost all three meetings with Houston a season ago and will also visit Dallas on its current road trip.