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  • Brian L. Barefield

Familiar Face: James Harden makes his NBA season debut in win over Spurs.


Photo Credit/Houston Rockets


There was an old familiar face in the Toyota Center on Tuesday night. Rockets superstar James Harden made his 2020-21 NBA season debut in a 112-98 preseason victory over the San Antonio Spurs. After missing the beginning of training camp and two preseason games played in Chicago due to NBA COVID-19 protocol, Harden finished the night with 12 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds in 21 minutes.


"He was good," said Rockets head coach Stephen Silas. "I mean, he's obviously a great player and can do so many things on the floor, on and off the ball. Defensively, he has great hands and makes plays and is smart. So, to have him out there was great."


Harden looked in mid-season form as he drained a step back three-pointer on his first shot of the game and looked very fluid throughout the game as he sliced in and out of the lane. Although there were no fans in attendance, Harden still provided that same on-court energy he has for his tenure with the Rockets.


Coach Silas finally got to see all three of his superstars on the court for the first time together this season. Along with Harden, point guard John Wall chipped in 15 points and DeMarcus Cousins controlled the glass with 11 rebounds.


“At first it was a little different for me because I am used to having the ball in my hands so much,” said Wall. “We were just talking throughout the game and sideline. I am not worried about trying to score 30 or 40 points. My job is to be the point guard and be the leader out there (court) and try to get guys shot and be aggressive myself.”


Houston also welcomed back veteran forward P.J. Tucker to the starting rotation who had also missed the first two preseason games in Chicago. He finished the night with 8 points going 2-for-4 from behind the arc.


Photo Credit/Houston Rockets


Many eyes that were focused on the game to see Harden makes his debut, was treated to another good performance from forward Jae’Sean Tate who the Rockets coaching staff has had high praise for since the beginning of training camp. The undrafted free agent who spent his last two years playing overseas scored 11 points in less than 20 minutes on the court. His hustle and aggressiveness on the defensive end is one of the biggest reasons he may see significant playing time this season.


"He guards every position, he is capable offensively, he's physical, he's smart,” said coach Silas. “As a rookie coming in, after playing professionally, he has kind of a veteran savvy about him. He doesn't have that glazed rookie look on his face. He's a talented basketball player."


Houston will be back in action against the Spurs on Thursday at Toyota Center.