NBA

Chris Paul says it "felt natural" playing with James Harden for the first time

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Chris Paul made his long-awaited debut for the Houston Rockets in their pre-season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

The Rockets came away with a 104-97 win over a Thunder team that also handed debuts to Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.

But for Houston fans, it was a first chance to see Paul take to the floor alongside superstar James Harden and get a glimpse of what's to come this season.

CP3 put up 11 points, seven assists and zero turnovers in his first outing in the backcourt with 'The Beard'.

It may have been the first time the duo have played together in an NBA setting, but they spent much of the summer working out together and playing pickup games and Paul believes that has helped them build chemistry already.

"It felt natural," said Paul. "We played a lot this summer, and I think that helped, spending that time talking about communicating and stuff like that. But we can always get better."

The All-Star pair showed that they can both be playmakers for the team as they combined for 17 assists and head coach Mike D'Antoni admitted that he plans to use them separately on occasions to allow the other to rest.

During his stint out of the game, Harden said he thoroughly enjoyed watching Paul in action and how he got his teammates involved.

"We've all watched him for the last 12, 13 years," Harden said. "Now he has probably more space than he's ever had. With the pick-and-roll and you have three, four shooters around you, it's going to make his game a lot easier."

The Texas-based outfit picked up where they left off last year as they shot the ball impressively from three-point range.

CP is one of the best passers in the league and surrounding him with shooters gets the best out of him as he finds players with ease.

"It's too much fun, man," Paul said. "One thing I've always said is, I can get somebody an open shot."

The veteran point guard has been used to having the ball in his hands throughout his career, but playing with Harden will finally give him an opportunity to play off the ball and allow somebody else to dictate the offence.

The nine-time All-Star can now spend time spotting up on the perimeter and receive wide open looks.

"It's cool. It's good. It's great," Paul said. "You do what you have to do on the teams that you're on. That's the way the game is worked. I'm enjoying this, you know what I mean? It's nice not to have to be in a ball screen every single time."

Paul and his new Rockets team will begin the regular season with a tough trip to face the reigning champion Golden State Warriors which gives them an early opportunity to put down a marker against the team they're hoping to dethrone in the west.

Topics:
Southwest Division
Western Conference
NBA
Chris Paul
L.A. Clippers
Pacific Division
Houston Rockets
James Harden

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