Rockets say Westbrook fine despite exiting late

NBA

MIAMI — The Houston Rockets‘ final preseason game Friday night didn’t go as smoothly as hoped.

Russell Westbrook — who has been dealing with some dislocated fingers on his right hand — left the team’s game against the Miami Heat in the fourth quarter in obvious discomfort.

The star point guard lost the ball, immediately grabbed at his right hand, then ran off the court and directly into the tunnel leading to the Rockets’ locker room without stopping. He finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists on 6-of-13 shooting in 26 minutes.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Westbrook aggravated the finger issue, and will be fine.

Houston’s Austin Rivers could play only seven minutes before being downgraded to out with neck soreness, but D’Antoni said the veteran guard is fine, too.

“Both of them told me they were OK, so we’ll take that,” the coach said.

Westbrook will have a few extra days to get through the issue with his fingers. He and the Rockets don’t open the regular season until hosting Milwaukee on Thursday.

The news was better for James Harden.

The reigning NBA scoring champion poured in 44 points in 35 minutes — 18 of those points coming in the third quarter — in Houston’s 144-133 victory over the Heat.

“James was ridiculous,” D’Antoni said.

Harden was 12-of-26 from the field, 8-of-16 from 3-point range and 12-of-13 from the foul line. He also had seven assists and five rebounds, and finished the preseason averaging 31.5 points.

“That’s the way he’s wired,” D’Antoni said. “He loves to play. I couldn’t take him out in the fourth quarter if I wanted to. He’d play 48 if he could. He’s wired that way. He gets better every time. I don’t know what his ceiling is. But he’s, to me, the most improved player every year. He’s just ridiculous.”

Houston finished 4-2 in the preseason.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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