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1. We didn’t know what to expect out of the Houston Rockets last night. As we said in yesterday’s Daily Six Shooter, all three of their key players had never played in a game together and all three were with different teams. That turned out to be not a problem at all as James Harden had as good a debut as you could as for as Houston beat the Detroit Pistons 105-96.
The new guard who spent last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder finished his first game with the Rockets with 37 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds. But what’s interesting about the game though, in particular the 2nd half, was that it was a game of streaks. The Pistons would score a lot of unanswered baskets and the Rockets would return and do the same. It’s likely a reflection of the Rockets getting used to each other on the court as well as both teams played up-tempo because of how athletic even their big men are.
What will be interesting to see is if this is how the offense will function the rest of the season, with Harden handling the ball almost as much as Jeremy Lin. When Harden was in OKC, he came in and he handled the ball and basically took over the offense. But now he’s playing in the starting lineup with Lin. They got the win in Detroit, but we’ll see how that dynamic plays out the rest of the season.
2. It didn’t take long for the Rockets to lock down Harden long-term either. Yesterday he and Houston GM Daryl Morey worked out an $80 million deal that will keep him with the Rockets for the next five years.
The last members of the Houston Rockets that made that kind of money were Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady. Given Harden’s age, his last couple of years with the Thunder and his stellar debut, Houston has to be much more confident in this deal than they’ve been for any major contract extension for a long time.
All you need to know about how good the deal is too is that this signing completely fell under the radar after the trade stole the headlines over the weekend. Nobody is talking about it because it was understood that the extension would happen and everyone knows that Harden is worth the money.
3. Did you have trouble finding the Rockets game last night? That’s no surprise. Rockets games are no longer broadcast on a Fox Sports regional network. They’re being carried by Comcast SportsNet Houston, which has yet to work out a deal with some major providers.
Of course it was available on Comcast, a major cable provider in the Houston area, but the lack of coverage on DirecTV, Dish Network, and AT&T U-verse means that there are a lot of people that have to go to a local bar or a friend’s house to watch Rockets games for now. One overlooked aspect of the negotiations is the sudden improvement of the Rockets. Before they got James Harden, sure Jeremy Lin brought some excitement but they weren’t expected to be that good or make the playoffs. Now, Houston looks like they can easily be a playoff team with the acquisition of James Harden.
Wanna see the new and improved Rockets this season? You’re going to have to pay. It’s just a good thing that negotiations aren’t taking place during the Astros season. The low-balling would be historic.
Photo courtesy Tom Pennington/Getty Images
4. Halloween night in New Orleans is always a good time. But the last thing you want to do in the Crescent City on Halloween night is spend it at a basketball game. The New Orleans Hornets didn’t exactly have a big home court advantage when they hosted the San Antonio Spurs last night, which may have contributed to the Spurs 99-95 victory.
As much flack as the Hornets have taken over the years, especially last year without Chris Paul, Anthony Davis looked really good and fit right into his first NBA action as he and Tim Duncan squared off all night. His time with Team USA over the summer winning a gold medal definitely has him ahead of the curve. Ultimately though, Duncan had the better game finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.
Duncan and Tony Parker took turns carrying the team, but one of the things that San Antonio will benefit from all season is the presence of Stephen Jackson. He’s not Manu Ginobili, as they’re going to miss him until he’s back to full health with those back problems, but Jackson made an immediate impact when he returned to San Antonio last season, especially in the playoffs. The guy is seriously ageless and while he’s had off court problems in the past, he thrives in this great environment with a lot of intensity and even showing some veteran leadership.
Jackson finished last night’s game with just seven points and five rebounds in 25 minutes, but his affect on the team doesn’t necessarily show up on the stat sheet. It’s rare that you find a guy that plays with as much contempt as this guy, which makes him fun to root for if he plays for you and easy to hate if he doesn’t.
5. Finishing up the first full night of NBA action, the Dallas Mavericks played the 2nd of a back-to-back set in Utah where the Jazz ran the Mavs out of the building in the 2nd half, winning 113-94. Dallas was outscored 37-13 in the 3rd quarter and never recovered. Pretty tough to recover from that without Chris Kaman or Dirk Nowitzki.
The matchup against Utah was the exact opposite of the one they had in LA on Tuesday night. The Jazz love to run and have a ton of athleticism on the floor at all times. And what really hurt the Mavs was the way they were dominated on the boards. Utah grabbed 61 rebounds compared to the 40 by Dallas. They scored 27 fast break points.
The absence of Nowitzki and Kaman was also felt more in this game because it’s the 2nd game of the back-to-back after traveling as well. Dallas had to dig deep into the bench and a lot of the guys that played well on Tuesday didn’t look as good on Wednesday. Jae Crowder, Shawn Marion and OJ Mayo didn’t play as well. In the future, they need to make sure they’re getting rebounds because they could have been in this game if they had gotten some more opportunities off the boards.
6. Finally, the modern network late night talk shows have a certain lineage of endorsements, a sort of tree of approval that started with Johnny Carson, the greatest late night talk show host of all time. While Jay Leno was a substitute host for The Tonight Show, Carson was more of a friend to and supported David Letterman. One of the few appearances Carson ever made on television after he retired wasn’t on NBC, but on CBS with Letterman.
Letterman rarely makes appearances on any show but his own, but he actually would do rare guest spots on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Dave was always a fan of Conan’s and was a self-professed fan of what Conan did when he hosted The Tonight Show. But in recent years, Letterman has also reached out to and supported another host: Jimmy Kimmel. I’ve been a fan of Jimmy Kimmel Live since the show premiered. The way he’s embraced very silly thing and unexpectedly funny people like his Uncle Frank, Guillermo, and the costumed nuts on Hollywood Blvd is something that not many people can pull off.
Jimmy Kimmel had appeared on Letterman’s show in previous years when he was the co-host of The Man Show with Adam Carolla, but Letterman has since had Kimmel back even as Jimmy competed with him for a late night audience. Yesterday, Letterman returned the favor as a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live while the show is in Brooklyn this week. The exchange was hilarious and fun, especially when Jimmy showed Dave just how big a fan he was when he was a kid. Here’s part one of that interview, but do yourself a favor and watch the whole interview on Kimmel’s YouTube channel.