From Comcast SportsNetAUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- 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."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.NOTES:Detroit's Corey Maggette was out with a left calf strain. ... There was a brief delay near the end of the second quarter when what looked like steam began coming out of a generator behind one of the baskets. ... Stuckey went 1 for 10 from the field. ... Pistons owner Tom Gores was noncommittal when asked about the possibility of the team someday playing in downtown Detroit. "You don't want to leave and say, Nice to see you, the Palace.' I don't think you want to do that," Gores said. "If the future is downtown and that's what we have to do to grow, I'm not against that."
NEW ORLEANS -- There will be a significant faction of Celtics Nation who will see DeMarcus Cousins’ trade to New Orleans as a lost opportunity for the C's, who could have offered a much more enticing trade package than the one the Sacramento Kings accepted.
The Kings received nothing even remotely close to a king’s ransom for Cousins, acquiring him in exchange for rookie Buddy Hield, journeyman Langston Galloway and ex-Pelican Tyreke Evans (who has never been the same since his Rookie of the Year season in 2010), along with a protected first-round pick and a future second-round selection.
- Blakely: Davis and Cousins form what may be the NBA's best frontcourt
- Blakely: Celtics looking to make blockbuster deal, and Butler may be target
- Woj: Celtics and Bulls are perfect trade partners for Butler
While the knee-jerk reaction is to focus on why Boston decided to not pursue a trade for Cousins, more important is what the non-decision means for the moment and going forward.
Think about what the Celtics have done in the last three-plus seasons.
They went from being a lottery team to one that has the second-best record in the East. They're holding the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft; at worst, the pick will be in the top four or five. They have three of the most team-friendly contracts (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder) in the NBA. They have promising prospects overseas as well as in the D-League. And they're led by a coach who has improved his coaching acumen -- and the team’s win total -- every year he's been on the job.
And it's all enveloped by a culture with a high level of selflessness, which has created a locker-room environment that has been more about fighting for each other than fighting one another or others off the court.
Do you really think Cousins’ talent would have trumped the baggage he'd be bringing to the Celtics if they'd acquired him?
For him to have fit in with this team would have required him to make the kind of changes that, frankly, I just don’t see him being capable of making at this point.
On more than one occasion, “not fitting in” with the Celtics culture was given to me as the reason why a Cousins-to-Boston trade never gained any traction with the team’s brass. Or coaching staff, for that matter.
While there's no denying that he's arguably the best center in the NBA, Cousins is a high-risk, high-reward talent that makes sense to pursue if you're a franchise which has nothing to lose by adding him to the mix. Like, say, New Orleans.
The Pelicans are 11th in the Western Conference despite having Anthony Davis, who has been asked to carry the weight of a franchise that has yet to figure out the best combination of talent to surround him with and find success.
The addition of Cousins not only provides Davis some major help, but serves as a reminder of just how desperate the Pelicans are.
While there are mixed reports on whether the package of assets the Kings agreed to was the best they could have received for Cousins, there was no way they were going to get anything close to comparable talent in exchange for him.
And that was solely due to the risk that any team was willing to take on in order to acquire him.
At some point, the Celtics need to take advantage of an opportunity to go all-in for a superstar player. But this was not that time, or that player.
Amica Insurance proudly donates $500 during every Boston Celtics game to Boston Children's Hospital.