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Rockets fall to Raptors in Japan

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The Beard balled out and Westbrook made his debut, but the Rockets blew a lead in the fourth.

BASKET-NBA-JPN Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets dropped the opening contest of a two-game series in Japan with the Toronto Raptors, falling 134-129 in a game in which they led by 17 points at one time.

James Harden had a dominant 34 points and 7 assists on 11-14 shooting in just 27 minutes of action to help the Rockets build a big lead and take a 7-point lead into the the final frame, but the benches were cleared for the entire fourth quarter, when the Raptors initiated most of their comeback against backups.

Russell Westbrook saw his first action in a Houston uniform and was a mixed bag, finishing with 13 points and 6 assists on 4-10 from the field. His ability to push the pace was well on display, as was his poor three-point shooting (just 1-6 from deep), and penchant for turnovers, as he committed 5 in just 21 minutes, including a few at the end of the third quarter with Harden on the bench that got the Raptors back to within single digits.

The Rockets had some bad news in that Clint Capela had to leave the game with a thumb injury. This was the same thumb the big man had prior surgery on, so this is something to keep an eye on. No word yet on the full severity of the injury. He finished with 12 points, 6 boards, and 3 blocks in 20 minutes.

The Rockets also got 12 points from Eric Gordon, and 10 apiece from Ben McLemore and Thabo Sefolosha, who both continue to look like they will be fine additions to this team.

Ryan Anderson hit a couple deep threes (2-4 from beyond the arc) , Isaiah Hartenstein continues to be a ball of energy off the bench (6 points, 6 boards, and a block) but is still making some mistakes, and Chris Clemons looked like, well, Chris Clemons (11 shots in 18 minutes).

The Raptors were led by Pascal Siakam who finished with 24 points and 11 boards, Fred VanVleet, who had 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals, and Serge Ibaka, who finished with 18 points on 8-10 shooting.

The Rockets and Raptors play again on Thursday morning at the same time, and we’ll hopefully have an update on Clint Capela’s thumb by then.