Taiwanese American star Jeremy Lin (林書豪) was a winner in his NBA debut with the Houston Rockets, but it was fellow newcomer James Harden who lifted the squad in a 105-96 triumph on Wednesday at Detroit.
The Rockets obtained Harden on Saturday in a deal with Oklahoma City and he signed a five-year contract extension worth a reported US$80 million with Houston only hours before he took to the court with his new team.
Joining Lin in the Rockets backcourt, Harden scored 37 points on 14-of-25 shooting from the field and passed out 12 assists while grabbing six rebounds.
Lin, who sparked “Linsanity” last season with the New York Knicks in a last-chance longshot star turn off the bench, signed a free-agent deal with the Rockets that New York failed to match to find his way to the former club of retired Chinese star center Yao Ming (姚明).
In his regular-season debut with the Rockets, Lin played 35 minutes, finishing with 12 points, eight assists and four rebounds. He made four steals and committed four turnovers.
“It’s a brand-new chapter in my life and so I’m excited to get this thing going,” Lin said after the game. “And hopefully, if we keep this up, it’s going to be a really fun season.”
When asked about his performance, Lin focused on his health, in particular the left knee that forced a premature end to his previous season.
“This was the best my body has felt in a while, a few months,” he said. “I’m glad I got that first one out of the way. I know what to expect and how my body’s going to respond.”
“We’re trying to develop a team identity, so this helps for sure,” Lin said of the victory.
Carlos Delfino came off the bench to add 15 points for the Rockets, who trailed 58-55 at halftime and 81-72 entering the fourth quarter before Houston outscoring the Pistons 33-15.
Brandon Knight led Detroit with 15 points while Greg Monroe added 14.
Additional reporting by NY Times News Service