NBA

Russell Westbrook has mixed feelings after losing in Rockets debut

By Sports Desk October 08, 2019

Russell Westbrook had mixed feelings after his Houston Rockets debut ended in defeat to the Toronto Raptors in Tokyo.

Lining up alongside James Harden for the first time since the two former NBA MVPs were reunited with his offseason trade, Westbrook scored 13 points, adding six assists, two rebounds and a steal in a 21-minute outing.

Harden impressed with a game-high 34 points, but the Rockets went down 134-129 in Tuesday's preseason game. The two teams will do it all again in Japan's capital on Thursday.

"It wasn't bad - unfortunately we didn't win and that's the main goal," Westbrook said. 

"But it was good to get on the floor for the first time, get up and down, try to find a rhythm. We've got a lot of work to do, including myself getting in better shape and game condition, so we'll get it together.

"I'd love to play here for the Olympics, I think its an unbelievable place to be. I love Tokyo, the fans here and the atmosphere. 

"But our main focus now is on the season and finishing the season like we want to with the championship trophy."

Harden's 27-minute performance, in which he connected with 4-of-7 three-pointers, came as he continues to stress the importance of intensity in the Rockets' preseason games.

"We've been doing an unbelievable job in practice of pushing ourselves," said Harden, who had scored 37 against the Los Angeles Clippers last time out.

"Even in these preseason games we are trying to push it past our limits. That way, when the season starts in a few weeks, we'll be ready.

"I'm still working on my conditioning. I know for myself and Russ, who was excited for his first game out there, conditioning isn't where we want it to be, so that's what these games are for. 

"We are focusing on our team and getting better - we have a great opportunity ahead of us and we're focused every single day. We're glad to see Russ out there on the basketball court."

Of the Tokyo crowd, Harden added: "It was amazing. They got an opportunity to see what NBA basketball is about, what Rockets basketball is about. They brought the energy.

"They were excited from the beginning of the game. They made us want to go out there and put on a show, so hopefully it can be that same kind of atmosphere on Thursday."

Pascal Siakam had 24 points for the Raptors, who were playing their first preseason game.

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