James Harden's Rockets debut was amazing

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James Harden's Rockets debut was amazing

From Comcast SportsNetAUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- James Harden agreed to a big new contract extension -- and he certainly looked worth it in his first game with the Houston Rockets.Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in a stirring debut for his new team, and Carlos Delfino made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Rockets to a 105-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.Detroit led 83-72 early in the fourth, but Harden and Delfino brought the Rockets back. Houston acquired Harden on Saturday night in a trade with Oklahoma City and agreed Wednesday on a five-year, 80 million contract extension with him."I think I just wanted to get out there and play," Harden said. "All the talking and all the craziness that has been happening this last week -- I just wanted to go out there and play basketball."The reigning Sixth Man of the Year fell just short of his career high of 40 points, and his 12 assists were a career best. Not bad for a guy still adjusting to new teammates and a new situation.Harden started only seven games in three seasons in Oklahoma City, as he developed into an indispensable reserve. But he was in the starting lineup Wednesday and looked ready to play a bigger role with Houston."I just tried to score and create opportunities," Harden said. "Carlos Delfino came in hot. I just tried to get my bigs involved. A lot of different guys stepped up, and I think that's how it's going to be throughout this entire season."Jeremy Lin, Houston's other big acquisition, had 12 points and eight assists. The Rockets won without Patrick Patterson, who was out with a left quad strain.Brandon Knight led Detroit with 15 points.With Houston down 11 points, Harden started the comeback with a 3-pointer, and Greg Smith followed with a dunk. Detroit led only 85-83 after consecutive 3-pointers by Delfino, then a layup by Chandler Parsons tied it.Smith dunked to put the Rockets ahead 89-87, and he dunked again to make it a four-point game before hobbling off with what he later said was a minor left foot injury. By then, Houston was already taking control of the game behind its two new playmakers, Harden and Lin."They're very smart players. You've got to give credit to them," Smith said. "They know what they're doing on the court. They're very intelligent."A dunk by Detroit's Jonas Jerebko cut the lead to two, but Delfino made two more 3-pointers to make it 97-89.Harden pretty much put the game away with a three-point play with 1:27 remaining that put Houston ahead 104-94."They keep it so simple as far as just spreading it out and letting him create," Detroit's Rodney Stuckey said. "Pick and rolls, that's pretty much what got us. They did a good job of spreading us out. He was getting in the lane, making shots and finding his teammates and they were making shots, too."Attendance was announced at 16,646 at the Palace, and there were plenty of empty seats on Halloween. The fans who did turn out saw an entertaining performance by the Pistons that ultimately fell short.Harden scored 19 points in the first half, but Detroit led 58-55 after a 36-point second quarter."I thought it was a challenge for James to kind of figure out what we were doing," Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. "We put some plays in that he was comfortable with that they ran at Oklahoma City."The Rockets led 65-58 after Harden's two-handed dunk off a nice one-handed bounce pass from Lin. The Pistons looked terrific for the rest of the quarter. They scored 13 straight points -- including consecutive dunks by Greg Monroe and Jason Maxiell -- to take a 71-65 lead.A 3-pointer by Harden cut the deficit to two, but Detroit ran off another eight straight points and led 79-69 following a basket by Kyle Singler.It was 81-72 after three quarters.NOTES:Detroit's Corey Maggette was out with a left calf strain. ... There was a brief delay near the end of the second quarter when what looked like steam began coming out of a generator behind one of the baskets. ... Stuckey went 1 for 10 from the field. ... Pistons owner Tom Gores was noncommittal when asked about the possibility of the team someday playing in downtown Detroit. "You don't want to leave and say, Nice to see you, the Palace.' I don't think you want to do that," Gores said. "If the future is downtown and that's what we have to do to grow, I'm not against that."

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

Cousins buys chocolate from kids for charity, donates bars to flight staff

DeMarcus Cousins leads the NBA in technical fouls. He also leads the league in scowls and he’s even kicked over a few garbage cans following the Kings' loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night. But that’s just a small portion of who he is.

According to a source that travels with the team, Cousins went out of his way Sunday morning to make an impact in the lives of a couple of local youth in Chicago.

Kids were selling chocolate bars outside the team’s hotel trying to earn money for charity. Plenty of people walked by, avoiding the youth, but Cousins stopped, reached into his pocket and purchased all of the boxes they had to sell.

Later on in the day, Cousins donated the candy to the flight service staff for use on the flight to Detroit.

Cousins gets plenty of negative press for his antics on the floor, but off the court, he is extremely generous. He plays Santa-Cuz during the holidays, buying gifts for underprivileged children in Sacramento and his hometown of Mobile, Alabama. He has also purchased a new scoreboard for a local high school and even paid for the funeral of a local high school football player who lost his life in a drive-by shooting.

No one is perfect, Cousins included, but he also has a genuinely good side that he often doesn’t seek or receive press for.

 

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Kirk Cousins watches Kyle Shanahan's offense carve up Packers

Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. His uncertain status has led to speculation presumptive 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan will be interested in acquiring him in the offseason.

On Sunday, Cousins got a first-hand look at his former coach’s offense.

Cousins posted a photo on Instagram from the stands at the Georgia Dome, where the Atlanta Falcons and their high-octane offense blasted the Green Bay Packers, 44-21, in the NFC Championship game.

Cousins wrote the caption, “Watching two of the best in the world do what they do & taking notes to make it to this game next year -score a lot of points!”

Washington finished third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record.

Shanahan, the Falcons’ offensive coordinator, coached Cousins for the first two seasons of his NFL career with Washington on the staff of his father, Mike Shanahan. Cousins appeared in just eight games with four starts in 2012 and ’13.

Cousins' career has taken off in the past two seasons while starting all 32 regular-season games. He completed 67 percent of his passes this season with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 97.2.

Washington placed the franchise tag on Cousins this season at nearly $20 million. He franchise tag is expected to be approximately $24 million in 2017.

If Washington places the non-exclusive franchise tag on Cousins, a team could sign him to an offer sheet at the cost of two first-round draft picks or negotiate a trade with Washington for a lesser amount.