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."
MEXICO CITY – Three things you need to know after the Raiders’ 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City:
1. So you’re saying there’s a chance
The Raiders aren’t stacking wins as they’d like. Nobody in the AFC West is, either. The Chiefs lost another one, meaning the AFC West crown remains within reach. They’re two games back in the division and one back in the wild card race.
That, above all else, will keep the Raiders motivated after a disastrous loss to New England.
“We're professionals and to me, so long as you have hope, you keep your hope, you keep hope alive,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “So, we'll continue to scratch and claw and fight for everything we can.”
The Raiders can harken Lloyd Christmas from “Dumb and Dumber.” So you’re saying there’s a chance.
The Raiders will only stay in it if they start a prolonged winning streak. There’s a chance do that on an upcoming two-game home stand. They play Denver and the New York Giants, respectively, in Oakland over the next fortnight. Those teams have five wins between them.
Wins can’t be assumed with the Raiders team, with the inconsistency and mistake-prone play to lose to anyone.
Fight remains in this group. They’ll continue to push, especially with a 9-7 record being a legitimate playoff contender. They haven’t played worthy of such consideration, but remain hopeful a switch gets flipped.
“We are who we are, we're not going to turn on each other, we're not going to turn on anything about what we do,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Obviously, we know that our culture and everything that we do works, because we have seen it work.”
2. Receiver corps becoming a weak spot
The Raiders have a talented group of receivers lacking consistency and production. That was the case on Sunday, when pass catchers hindered offensive flow and scoring opportunities.
Seth Roberts was the biggest offender. He had a drop, a false start and lost a fumble near the goal line with the Patriots up 14-0 late in the first half. Roberts had 12 yards in his pocket but held the ball one-handed, away from his body fighting for more. Marquis Flowers knocked it free and Patrick Chung recovered.
That was the turning point, a true 10-point swing. The Raiders lost a chance to reach the end zone, and allowed New England to get a field goal as the half expired.
“That was a major turn of events,” Del Rio said.
The slot receiver wasn’t the only receiver who stalled the Raiders offense. That group had five drops, according to Pro Football Focus, including two from Michael Crabtree. Johnny Holton wasn’t credited with a drop, but he had a perfectly thrown deep ball clang off his helmet and shoulder pads.
It’s a bad night in a bad year for the Raiders receivers, who haven’t been producing.
3. Lopsided score keeps Marshawn from going BeastMode
Running back Marshawn Lynch was the only player who had a good Sunday. The bruising back ran roughshod over New England’s front seven, right from the start. He totaled 67 yards on 11 carries, and seemed primed for a big day and a higher-than-usual carry volume.
He and the Raiders run blocking was consistent, allowing him to reach the second level on several occasions.
The lopsided score, however, meant the Raiders had to abandon the ground game.
“I thought we ran the ball well early,” Del Rio said. “I would like to have ended up with 30-plus rush attempts in the ball game, but you got to stay within reasonable amount of the score in order to stick with the run.”
The Raiders were down two touchdowns in a flash, and were three scores behind at the half. That forced Derek Carr to chuck it towards an unreliable receiver corps. That method proved inefficient and never created the big moments.
Lynch has run well since returning from a one-game suspension. He has 25 carries for 124 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games. If there’s a positive to take from Sunday’s beat down, Lynch’s efficiency might be it.
MEXICO CITY – The Raiders have played in Mexico City the last two years, and have given up a home game to do it.
You already know head coach Jack Del Rio’s stance on the matter. He doesn’t like it. Not one bit.
The NFL announced Sunday morning that Mexico City will host games annually through 2021. The Raiders will be on the short list to return during that span.
“They’ve done a nice job for us over the last two years,” Del Rio said. “If it was a road game, I’d enjoy it. If they stop making (international contests) our home games, we’ll be fine.”
"They’ve done a nice job for us the last couple of years. If this was a road game I’d enjoy it.”— Raiders on NBCS (@NBCSRaiders) November 20, 2017
Del Rio on playing in Mexico City ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/JsbZU4xGKq
Hate to be the bearer of bad news Jack, but the Raiders will keep giving home games away. That’s expected each year until the Raiders formally move to Las Vegas.
The Raiders might not come back to Mexico for a third straight season, but could host a game in London next year. The NFL sent four games to the United Kingdom this year.
The Raiders have a massive fan base in England and Mexico, which makes them an attractive option to play abroad.
It might make financial sense for the team and the league to expand its base beyond borders, but the football people don’t find it fun.
The Raiders had more fans watching Sunday’s 33-8 loss to the New England Patriots at Estadio Azteca, but it’s no substitute for playing in Oakland.
“I think the crowd down here is pretty excited for the Raiders, so we appreciate that,” Del Rio said. “When you travel four-and-a-half hours, you’re not at home. We appreciate the hospitality and the good people who came out and supported us, but it’s hard to call it a home game.”
This one, especially. The Raiders had overwhelming support last year’s game against Houston, but Patriots fans were a large and vocal minority. They had plenty to cheer, as the Patriots waxed the Silver and Black over four quarters.
It’s hard to say the Raiders had a home crowd this time around, with plenty of noise when they were on offense.
“You know what, traveling down here, I think it was like four hours or something like that, and getting here, I think that hospitality was great, but it really wasn't, it wasn't the Coliseum,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “It didn’t have that feel. Now, we loved playing here, we loved coming down here and playing, but it felt more neutral.”