HOUSTON – The Rockets and new star guard Russell Westbrook, bolted out of the starting gate and quickly built a double-figure lead against the Milwaukee Bucks, a team expected to complete for the title.
But it disappeared in the fourth quarter and the Rockets emerged from their season opener with a tough 117-111 loss. Houston was outscored 39-24 in the final period and made just 5 of their 22 shots, including shooting just 2-of-16 on three oint shots.
Westbrook led the Rockets with 24 points and 16 rebounds in his debut with the team. James Harden added 19 points and 14 assists, but made just two of his 13 field goal attempts.
Here's what the players were saying after the game.
Rockets forward P.J. Tucker
"They made some big plays, they all did in the last quarter. They all stepped up at the end, made big plays."
"(It's just) one game, we all need to get better. (We) played three good quarters and didn't finish off the fourth like we should have. It's a learning process, we're not going to the playoffs tomorrow. We gotta build this thing up. (We got) 82 games we got a new team. So we need to just keep fighting.
We take steps everyday. Our team is getting better every day."
"He's good, he's been playing for awhile now. He's good at what he does, attacks, communicates, and he's a leader, a vocal leader, so that's good."
Rockets guard James Harden
"I didn't play well offensively the entire night, give them credit, they came back played well in the second half. But this one is on me, I just wasn't aggressive enough, that's what it was."
"Everybody saw it tonight. He's a different type of breed. But it's game one, we're not going to get too down. Even if we won, we're not going to get too excited."
On the season
"We've got a long journey ahead of us, the goal is to just get better."
Rockets guard Russell Westbrook
"It's all of us, I gotta do a better job, when teams are guarding him (Harden) like that and that's why I'm here to create for him so he doesn't have to create and do everything like he's accustomed to. We're going to figure it out, we were able to score at a high rate."
"We got a lot of open three's because they were back in the paint for me. We got open shots, we exactly what we want."