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James Harden shines in Rockets scrimmage loss to Raptors

James Harden scores 24 points in Rockets scrimmage loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Houston Rockets v Toronto Raptors Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

For the first time in 136 days, the Houston Rockets made their long-awaited return to the court. The Arena in Kissimmee, Fla. was the place where the Rockets suffered a 94-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The game marked the first of three scrimmages prior to the Rockets’ season restart — set to take place on Friday, July 31, against the Dallas Mavericks.

James Harden led both teams in scoring with 24 points (40.0% FG, 42.8 3PT), 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in the loss. The Raptors had five players who scored in double figures on the night. Serge Ibaka led the way for the defending champions with 18 points, while Terence Davis scored 15 off the bench.

Houston’s head coach Mike D’Antoni announced during his post-game press conference that DeMarre Carroll was a late game scratch prior to tip-off. The 33-year-old forward is dealing with an injured hamstring he sustained during practice.

“I think we did some good things out there on both sides of the ball. There were a few times where we gave up some baskets, and we turned the ball over on quite a few possessions. We have to do a better job with our execution.” — James Harden

How It Happened: With a little under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Rockets held a three-point lead over the Raptors when Davis scored a tip-in for Toronto. While pulling Toronto within a point, the basket ignited a 9-0 run for the Raptors. Toronto shot 60% from the floor to outscore Houston 22-10 during the final period. The Rockets shot an appalling 21.0% from the field, 0-for-12 from behind the arc.

Outside of Eric Gordon — who scored 11 points in 25 minutes — none of the Rockets’ starting five played the fourth quarter.

Houston’s primary starters received the majority of their playing time during the first half. The Rockets held their biggest lead during the first half (12) with Harden and Russell Westbrook scoring a combined 18 first-quarter points.

“I think it was a good first step. The things we wanted to see, we did. Russell looked like he was in a pretty good place, and I am expecting for us to get better from here. As we keep playing, we will see areas we have to get better at — it’s definitely doable.” — Mike D’Antoni

Who Stood Out: In addition to scoring 24 points in the loss, Harden finished the night with 10 assists — securing the double-double. Danuel House Jr. registered 18 points off the bench (7/11 FG, 3/6 3PT), while Westbrook recorded 10 points and nine rebounds in 15 minutes of action.

Up Next: The Rockets will return to play on Sunday, for a scrimmage against the Memphis Grizzlies. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m. CT.