But in the end it was a 105-93 win for the Rockets and a huge debut for the Rockets new backcourt duo of James Harden and Jeremy Lin.
The Pistons came and took a narrow three-point lead into the half only to see the Rockets go on a 10-point run to start the third. However, the Pistons responded in kind and put together an 11-point run of their own and then extended their lead to double digits after Lin got into foul trouble and had to take a seat.
In the fourth quarter, though, the Rockets new stars were too much for the Pistons, as Houston pulled away and sealed the game.
Both teams had something to feel good about. Fake beards is a good business to go into right now if you live in Houston as Harden was massive.
The Pistons, debuting several rookies, also had a lot to feel good about too, since all three of them played well in their first NBA regular season action.
Jeremy Lin, PG, HOU, B-
Lin was big during his first game with the Rockets, and proved that Linsanity was not all hype, as he scored 12 points and added eight assists, four rebounds and four steals.
His defense was solid, both in terms of his on-the-ball defense and his help defense. While it may not seem possible, if there is one underrated aspect of Lin's game, it is his defense.
Brandon Knight, PG, DET C-
The good news is that Brandon Knight scored 15 points. The bad news is that he only drained five of his 15 field goal attempts and only had four assists.
Knight did show an improved court awareness over last season, though, and better things should be coming from him in future games.
James Harden, SG, HOU, A+
There is just no way that the Houston Rockets could have hoped for more from their newly acquired foundational piece in is first game. Harden was magnificent, scoring 37 points, while dishing 12 assists, grabbing six boards and swiping four steals.
The last time a Rocket had numbers in that ballpark was Sleepy Floyd on January 20, 1989.
Not only that, but he showed remarkable chemistry with a team he had barely played with.
Furthermore, he did an excellent defensive job on Rodney Stuckey.
The Rockets are going to be selling some fake beards.
Rodney Stuckey, SG, DET, D-
Stuckey was utterly dominated by Harden, sinking only one of his 10 field-goal attempts. He added six assists, but his contributions were scarce and spread out. He seemed to completely disappear for long stretches of the game.
In addition, it's hard to even talk about his defensive effort on Harden.
The most amazing thing about Stuckey's performance is that he was on the court for 36 minutes and yet so utterly invisible.
Chandler Parsons, SF, HOU, B-
Chandler Parsons quietly had a very solid all-around game, scoring 11 points to go with seven boards and six assists. He had some key moments, such as his layup that broke an 83-83 tie and put the Rockets back in front after they had fallen behind by 10.
That came on the heels of two successive three-point assists. Parsons gets a bump form C+ to a B- because of the timeliness of his production.
Tayshaun Prince, SF, DET, C-
Tayshaun Prince had an unspectacular game in either direction. He scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting and, for the most part, checked Parsons fairly well.
On the other hand, when the Pistons could have used his veteran leadership as the Rockets were coming back, he didn't offer much in terms of production or by providing a calming influence.
Marcus Morris, HOU, PF, C-
Apart from a few spectacular dunks, Morris was not even marginally effective. He was only 3-of-10 from the field and seemed to be overpowered by Jason Maxiel for much of the game.
There were a few pretty fast-break dunks, though, including a wonderful feed from James Harden during the comeback.
Jason Maxiell, DET, PF, B-
Jason Maxiell had a solid game for the Detroit Pistons, working as hard as anyone on the roster. He had 10 points and eight assists in just 24 minutes. He also had two blocks to go with it.
Beyond his stats, he worked hard on defense and seemed to have an impact on the game when he was in it. That's reflected in his plus-minus numbers; he was the only starter with a plus number, as the Pistons outscored the Rockets by four while he was on the court.
Omer Asik, C, HOU, B+
The other Rocket starter who was playing his first game with the team also had a solid game, though it wasn't statistically impressive. While Asik came close to a double-double with 12 points and nine assists, he also drew the toughest defensive assignment.
He did a decent job of keeping Greg Monroe in check, holding him to 14 points and eight boards.
A statistical wash between Asik and Monroe is a win for the Rockets, so Asik gets a B-.
Greg Monroe, C, DET, D+
Monroe just seemed to struggle to get things going throughout most of the game. It wasn't until the fourth quarter that he was able to get anything going against Asik. While the eight points in the final period is a positive, the six in the first three quarters isn't.
Overall, for Detroit's best player to be stymied through most of the game is a negative for the Pistons.
Carlos Delfino, F, HOU, B-
Delfino was called for three early fouls, so he was not much of a factor during the first half. But he was a major contributor, knocking down three treys as the Rockets mounted their comeback and later pulled away from the Pistons.
Kyle Singler, F, DET, B-
The rookie Kyle Singler had a nice debut for Detroit, as he scored 10 points and grabbed two boards in just 15 minutes of play. He was 4-of-5 from the field and knocked down both of his threes, which were timely as well, helping Detroit break a second-quarter run by the Rockets.
Houston Rockets Bench: D-
Houston's bench overall raised some concerns. Greg Smith played well enough, hitting on all four of his shots, but he also nearly fouled out in just 17 minutes. The only other two bench players to get in the game, Daequan Cook and Toney Douglas, were a combined 0-of-7.
As great as Harden played, he'll need to get more reliable help from his bench for the Rockets to have a playoff push.
Detroit Pistons Bench: B+
The rest of the Pistons bench—which consisted of two more rookies, in addition to Singler—played remarkably well. They went a combined 10-of-20 for 26 points and collectively recorded eight rebounds and six assists. In particular, Kim English was essential to the Pistons' 11-point run during the third quarter.
The Pistons rookies look promising and should give Pistons fans something to feel good about, even in a loss.