Preseason statistics often can be misleading.
That might not be the case with James Harden right now.
After three preseason games, Harden has three points-assists double-doubles — the most recent one Sunday in Shanghai, when he had 26 points and 15 assists to help the Houston Rockets beat the New Orleans Pelicans 123-117 in an NBA Global Games matchup.
“We’re treating every game of preseason like the regular season in order to build good habits,” Harden said. “We don’t take the preseason lightly”
The Rockets are 3-0 in exhibitions so far this fall, scoring 131, 130 and now 123 points in those games. Harden is averaging 23.3 points and 12 assists in those three games.
And fans in China, where the Rockets are enormously popular anyway — thanks in large part to Yao Ming — have taken to Harden as well, with many sporting fake beards on Sunday to mimic his look.
“Great atmosphere,” Harden said.
They’ll be seeing even more NBA in China this season. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Sunday an expansion of the NBA’s partnership with BesTV, one that will see up to 1,300 games per season broadcast in China.
“It’s a multimedia partnership that brings the very best in television and technology to the NBA in China,” Silver said.
ROCKETS 123, PELICANS 117
SHANGHAI — Houston made 16 3-pointers, with Eric Gordon and Ryan Anderson combining to make 9 of 17 from beyond the arc.
E’Twaun Moore led New Orleans with 25 points, going 4-for-4 from long range.
PELICANS: Anthony Davis scored 23 points and Omer Asik had 14 points and 14 rebounds for New Orleans. … First-round pick Buddy Hield had 14 points, and Tim Frazier finished with nine assists.
ROCKETS: Gordon scored 24 and Anderson added 21 for Houston. … The Rockets committed 33 fouls, three more than the Pelicans in a game where the teams combined to shoot 71 free throws.
UP NEXT: The Rockets (3-0) and the Pelicans (1-2) play again on Wednesday, with that installment of the NBA Global Games set for Beijing.
LAKERS 124, NUGGETS 115
ONTARIO, Calif. — Lou Williams scored 15 consecutive points for Los Angeles in the fourth quarter, doing so in a span of less than 3 minutes and leading the Lakers to their second preseason win.
DeAngelo Russell scored 33 and Williams finished with 25 for the Lakers. Jusuf Nurkic had 21 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for Denver, while Danilo Gallinari scored 19.
NUGGETS: Denver was down by 12 in the first half, then led by seven in the third. … Emmanuel Mudiay had seven assists.
LAKERS: Luol Deng sat out with a bruised left knee. … Ontario is about 40 miles east of Staples Center, the Lakers’ home arena.
UP NEXT: The Lakers (2-1) host Portland on Tuesday. Denver (2-1) plays Minnesota on Wednesday in Lincoln, Nebraska.