Houston Rockets 96 Charlotte Bobcats 83
The Rockets didn’t play at all like the team that had dominated its way through the pre-season, but were still able to come out with a 96-83 win. Dwight Howard lead the way with 17 points and tied a career high with 26 rebounds, while James Harden finished with 21 points and 5 assists after being seeing grimacing on the bench in the third quarter from suffering an injury. But it was the tandem of Howard and Omer Asik who helped the Rockets gain a 54-47 advantage on the boards, as Asik pulled down 14 rebounds of his own.
Jeremy Lin scored 16 points off the bench after Patrick Beverley left the game with an injury in the second quarter, and Francisco Garcia scored 19 points, including making 5 of 9 from behind the 3-point line. The Rockets shot 9 for 25(36 percent) from the 3-point line as a team, and were able to showcase their improved defense.
Both Howard and Asik were able to shut down Bobcats center Al Jefferson, who had just 13 points and 8 rebounds on 6 for 19 shooting, and the Bobcats shot just 37 percent from the field as a team. Kemba Walker finished with just 12 points and 5 assists, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was limited to just 7 points and 8 rebounds.
The Rockets looked rusty all game and didn’t seem to establish any type of rhythm, until the 4th quarter. The slow start began in the first quarter when the Rockets shot just 6 for 20 from the field in the opening frame, and committed 5 turnovers(19 for the game). While the Rockets were able to establish a comfortable 8 point lead by the third quarter, a string of 3 consecutive 3-pointers, including 2 from Josh McRoberts, brought the Bobcats back.
Harden started out slow as he made just 2 of his first 9 shots, and Chandler Parsons had his struggles as well on both the offensive and defensive side. Omri Casspi, who had an excellent pre-season, looked hesitant for most of the game, and finished with just 4 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Beverley reportedly took a shot to the ribs in the second quarter, and sat out the rest of the game. The injury doesn’t look serious as he returned to the bench in the second half. Harden was bothered by an injured wrist, but was able to finish the game out strong.