Tonight’s big story, of course, was the highly anticipated return of James Harden. Harden, who didn’t make his training camp debut until this past Monday, had a solid game in his first preseason action. In 21 minutes of play, Harden notched 12 points, four assists, and three rebounds.
Harden’s first points back in the lineup came, as expected, via his patented step-back jumper.
The James Harden step-back is still automatic. pic.twitter.com/Uq4etvk5uE— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) December 16, 2020
Arguably the most important takeaway from Harden’s game tonight wasn’t his stats, but his body language. Throughout the entire game, Harden was vocal and animated. After plays, good and bad, he would take the time to coach up the younger players, and he would be seen having one-on-ones with guys like DeMarcus Cousins on the bench.
Even if Harden is still hellbent on leaving the Rockets, he remains a professional.
A standout from tonight’s game that isn’t any of the big Rockets names was the immaculate play of Jae’Sean Tate.
In just 18 minutes of play, Tate recorded 11 points, seven rebounds, and a steal on 5-7 shooting from the field. Tate is quickly becoming a favorite among Rockets fans for his great defensive play and well-rounded offensive game.
Tate also had the play of the game with this nifty move:
Sadly, the great play of the Rockets younger members was overshadowed by an unfortunate injury to guard Chris Clemons. After a made basket and backpedaling to the other side, Clemons came up limping and was unable to put pressure on his right leg. Clemons had to be helped out in a wheelchair.
Chris Clemons appeared to injure his lower leg and was taken off the court in a wheelchair.— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 16, 2020
Hope he's alright. pic.twitter.com/diKHPgXlN3
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the initial diagnosis on Clemons is a torn right Achilles. Clemons is receiving an MRI Wednesday morning.
Other notables from tonight’s match:
P.J. Tucker scored eight points on 2-4 shooting from deep, 2-2 FT, in his first game back with Houston. John Wall continues to look healthy and explosive, scoring 15 points on 6-13 shooting to go along with three assists and three steals.
We also have our first Wall-to-Harden highlight.
1st preseason game together— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) December 16, 2020
HARDEN: 12 PTS in 21 MINS
3/10 FG, 2/6 3PT, 4 AST, 2 STL
WALL: 15 PTS in 25 MINS
6/13 FG, 1/3 3PT, 3 AST, 3 STLpic.twitter.com/xcfTgyQNap
Cousins had seven points, 11 rebounds, and four steals on 3-of-8 shooting in 21 minutes of play. Ben McLemore scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting from the field, 2-5 from three.
With this win, Houston improves to 2-1 in the preseason. The Rockets will face the Spurs again in Houston on Thursday for their final game of the preseason.