Despite the big win, D12 and the Bearded One each got off to rocky starts. Harden shot 2-of-10 in the first half and Howard piled up four turnovers in the first quarter. In the third quarter, however, both superstars caught fire and started to show some serious team chemistry.
As Jason Friedman of NBA.com pointed out via Twitter, Harden and Howard combined to score 21 points through the first seven minutes of the third quarter. The Rockets led 72-57 after the big run and didn’t look back. They held a 14-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and won the game by 17.
Chandler Parsons and Omri Casspi provided additional offense, while Patrick Beverley and Omer Asik solidified the defense.
Although the Howard/Asik frontcourt tandem looked very efficient in this game, the performance should be taken with a grain of salt. While the twin towers did a tremendous job defending the rim, Tim Duncan was left wide open for numerous mid-range shots.
TD usually makes those looks count, but he simply didn’t have it tonight. He finished 2-of-12 from the floor and made the defense of the Rockets' big men look good by default.
The Asik/Howard pairing may still work throughout the season, but Duncan and other skilled big men will hit those open shots more often than not.
So exactly how did each player’s performance stack up in this preseason affair? Here are the game grades for the Rockets.