What began as the second-coming of Lin-Sanity in Houston has now become the dawning of the “James Harden era”.
The Houston Rockets outscored the Pistons 33-15 in the fourth quarter to stage a late game comeback and knock off Detroit 105-96 on the road in their season opener.
Harden, who earlier that day signed a 5 year, $80 million dollar extension with the team, proved (at least in his first game) why he may in fact be worth his big new contract.
James finished with a stat line of 37 points (3 shy of his career high) on 14 for 25 from the field and 4 for 10 from beyond the arc. He also added a career-high 12 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 key steals in his Houston debut.
He’s the first player in NBA history to record at least 30 points and 12 assists in his first game with a new team. Only 3 other players (Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, Larry Bird) have recorded Harden’s exact stat line since 1986.
Despite never having played a single game with his teammates before, there appeared to be a strong comfort level and understanding between Harden and the rest of the Rockets. His passes were crisp and precise throughout the night as he consistently got a number of his fellow Rockets clean looks at the basket.
”I just tried to score and create opportunities. 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 had himself a solid night of basketball in his own right, but it obviously paled in comparison to that of Hardens. Lin scored 12 points on 5 for 12 shooting. He also grabbed 4 rebounds, dished out 8 assists and stole the ball 4 times. Just like James, Lin has a lot to prove this year after agreeing to a deal that many fans (and players alike) believed was expensive. His numbers against Detroit weren’t flashy, but they got the job done. His mistakes were minimal, he was smart with the basketball and he took (for the most part) good shots.
After just one game, James Harden, Jeremy Lin and the rest of the Houston Rockets have set the bar quite high for themselves. Harden isn’t going to be dropping 37 points on a regular basis. However, he’s still being paid elite NBA money, so he’s going to need to remain consistent and continue to grow as the leader of this roster and franchise, despite being just 23 years old.
Instead of being cynical, I’m going to let Rockets fans relish in their big win and the performances of their newly formed backcourt. I can continue to push the fact that this was just “one insignificant game” and in reality, it didn’t mean a heck of a lot.
I won’t though. James Harden was outstanding and Jeremy Lin (while not nearly as impressive) continued to show improvement as an NBA point guard.
So far, so good.
The Rockets will play there next game Friday night in Atlanta against the Hawks at 7:00 pm EST.
Christopher Walder is a sports blogger and lead editor for Sir Charles in Charge. You may follow him on Twitter @WalderSports