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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets top Spurs 112-98 in Houston's home preseason opener

POSTED: December 15, 2020 -- 11:55 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Toyota Center) -- The Houston Rockets topped the San Antonio Spurs 112-98 Tuesday night in Houston's third of 4 preseason games this season. However, tonight was the first preseason game of the season for James Harden and P.J. Tucker.

Harden and Tucker both started in the game and each sank a three-point shot for Houston's first six points in the game.

Harden played 21 minutes, 22 seconds and scored 12 points on 3 for 10 field goal shooting (2 for 6 threes) and 4 for 5 free throws. Harden added 4 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 turnovers.

Tucker played 21 minutes, 9 seconds and scored 8 points on 2 for 4 field goal shooting. Tucker added 1 board and 1 assist.

Neither Harden nor Tucker spoke with the media after the game.

John Wall led the starters with 15 points. Wall and Harden in the backcourt together was different; and, after the game, Wall acknowledged, "At first, it was little different for me because I'm so used to having the ball so much."

Rockets Head Coach Stephen Silas said the Harden and Wall combination "could be really good." "To have two dynamic ball handlers on the floor who can do a bunch of things."

Ben McLemore scored 15 points off the Rockets' bench and helped the Rockets' reserves outscore the Spurs' reserves 59-38 in the game.

McLemore mentioned the difference in this year's Rockets' offense compared to last year's Rockets offense.

"I'm able to utilize the midrange," McLemore said. "And, obviously, with the shooting I had last year, a lot of teams are going to be running me off the line."

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The Spurs led 31-25 after the first quarter; however, the Rockets outscored the Spurs 31-24 in the second quarter to lead 56-55 at halftime.

McLemore scored 7 of his 15 points in the second quarter. Houston had a 14-6 edge in the paint in the second stanza.

The Rockets only made 8 of 24 field goals (33.3%) in the third period; however, Houston's defense forced 4 steals and scored 10 points off 8 Spurs' turnovers in the quarter.

Wall scored 6 points in the third. Harden shot 1 for 6 in the quarter and scored 3 points in nearly 7 minutes of action.

None of the Rockets' starters played in the fourth quarter. McLemore led the reserves with 8 points. Bruno Caboclo and Jerian Grant each scored 7 points in the fourth quarter.

Houston guard Chris Clemons suffered an apparent right Achilles injury early in the fourth quarter. Clemons left the court in a wheelchair.

Rockets' rookie forward Jae'Sean Tate finished the game with 11 points (5 for 7 field goals) and 7 rebounds in 17 plus minutes.

Coach Silas likes Tate's skillset, ""Rafael Stone (Rockets General Manager) is the one who found him and has been talking about him all summer. When I came in, he's like 'You gotta see this kid.' And, he was right.

"He does a little bit of everything. He guards every position. He's capable offensively. He's physical. He's smart. And, as a rookie coming in, after playing professionally for a year or two or whatever he did, 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."

The Rockets will conclude their preseason this Thursday, December 17th, versus the San Antonio Spurs once again inside Toyota Center. Tip time is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.

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