Shanghai Sharks: 21-24-25-24 — 94
Houston Rockets: 34-38-29-30 — 131
After disappointing for much of the 2015-16 season and being eliminated in the first round of the NBA Playoffs in five games by Golden State, the Houston Rockets made major changes this offseason. The biggest change was the hiring of Mike D’Antoni as head coach, and Sunday night the fan base caught their first glimpse of his team. After getting off to a slow start the Rockets got going offensively as the first quarter progressed, and they would go on to beat the Shanghai Sharks by the final score of 131-94.
James Harden led the Rockets offensively with 16 points while also dishing out ten assists, and he was one of seven players to finish the game in double figures. Forwards Ryan Anderson, K.J. McDaniels and Nene scored 12 points apiece, and Corey Brewer, Clint Capela and Kyle Wiltjer added ten apiece.
The Sharks were led offensively by former BYU and NBA guard Jimmer Fredette, who scored a game-high 33 points to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. Guerschon Yabusele added 24 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat. Below is a summary of each quarter of tonight’s exhibition.
First Quarter: Rockets Rebound From Slow Start
While the biggest question regarding the Rockets this season is how they’ll defend after struggling defensively last year, it was their offense that got off to a slow start Sunday night. Houston went more than three and a half minutes without a point to open the game, with a Harden three-pointer opening their account on the night. Houston would get going shortly thereafter, eventually holding a 34-21 lead at the end of the quarter.
Nene came off the bench to score a team-high ten points for the Rockets in the quarter, with Harden and starting center Clint Capela scoring six apiece. Jimmer Fredette led the Sharks with six points in the quarter but did so on 2-for-9 shooting from the field.
Second Quarter: Rockets Take 27-Point Lead Into Halftime
The Rockets continued to dominate the action in the second quarter, taking a 72-45 lead into the halftime break. A big reason for that was the play of the Rockets bench, which combined to shoot 15-for-18 from the field in the first half. Nene made all four of his field goal attempts in scoring ten points, and K.J. McDaniels added eight points on 3-for-3 shooting. Also effective off the bench for the Rockets were Corey Brewer, who scored seven points in the half, and free agent signing Eric Gordon who added six.
Houston shot 60 percent from the field in the first half, and of their 27 made field goals 22 were assisted. Harden led all scorers with 16 points while also dishing out six assists.
Jimmer Fredette finished the half with 15 points to lead the way for Shanghai, with Guerschon Yabusele adding eight. Yabusele was taken with the 16th pick in this past June’s NBA Draft by the Boston Celtics, but he will be playing for the Sharks this season.
Third Quarter: Rockets Starters Increase Lead
While most of the Rockets shot the ball well in the first half, starters Trevor Ariza and Ryan Anderson had some trouble getting going from three. That changed in the third quarter, with both Ariza and Anderson connecting on shots from beyond the arc. As a team Houston shot 4-for-9 from three in the third after making seven of 19 attempts in the first half.
Jimmer Fredette continued his scoring onslaught for the Sharks, scoring 12 more points in the third to move his total for the game up to 27. The final three of those 12 points came on a shot from half court as time expired to end the quarter. At the end of the third quarter Houston held a 101-70 lead.
Fourth Quarter: Rockets Close Out Convincing Victory
With the outcome essentially decided by halftime, and Houston increasing their lead in the third quarter, the fourth was about guys deeper on the Rockets bench (and looking to earn a spot on the team) getting minutes. Rookies Kyle Wiltjer, Gary Payton II, Chinanu Onuaku and Isaiah Taylor all saw the floor as the fourth quarter progressed, as did veteran point guard Bobby Brown.
It’ll be tough to make the Rockets roster with the team having 15 guaranteed contracts already, a count that includes Onuaku and Payton II, and there’s also the Donatas Montiejunas contract situation to take into consideration. As a result, players such as Wiltjer and Taylor are likely playing to earn themselves a spot with Houston’s D-League affiliate (Rio Grande Valley). Wiltjer was the most productive of the group, scoring ten points in just over eight minutes of action.
Point guard Tyler Ennis, who was acquired in a trade that sent Michael Beasley to Milwaukee just before the start of training camp, scored six points and dished out two assists in 11 minutes.