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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.