James Harden scored 21 points in the first quarter of the Houston Rockets’ preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo.
The 2018-19 season’s leading scorer showed off his full offensive arsenal as he erupted in the opening period.
Harden opened his account with a three-pointer from a slightly wayward Russell Westbrook pass. He followed that with a drive into the Raptors’ lane and finished with a finger roll at the rim.
Midway through the opening period, Harden connected with a floated jump shot and a lay-up to give Houston a 22-20 lead. Two more drives into the lane resulted in two more made floaters before the 2017-18 MVP finished off the quarter in style with a trademark step-back three that drew gasps from the Tokyo crowd.
Harden added 13 more points before leaving the game for the final time with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter and the Rockets leading 104-89. His 34 points came on 11-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three-point land, and he also contributed seven assists.
With Harden sat on the bench, the Raptors reduced their deficit to seven points at the end of the third quarter then outscored Houston 35-23 in the final period to run out 134-129 victors.
Pascal Siakam led the Raptors with 24 points on 7-of-16 shooting while Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Norman Powell and Chris Boucher all scored in double figures.
The game also marked the Rockets debut of Westbrook, acquired by Houston via trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the summer.
Westbrook, the 2016-17 league MVP, supplied 13 points and six assists in 20 minutes of play.