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John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins make encouraging preseason returns with Rockets

After years of rough injury luck, a pair of former All-NBA talents were back on the court.

John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins were top-five picks in the same Draft class, unquestionable talents that made their perennial All-NBA futures seem a matter of not just when, but how long. Instead, their respective rising stars were cut short by cruel injury luck.

Friday hinted that their luck might finally be about to change.

Wall and Cousins formed two-fifths of Houston’s revamped starting lineup in their preseason opener against Chicago. Both former All-Stars appeared spry considering their forced time away from the game, playing significant roles in the Rockets’ 125-104 victory.

Wall, acquired in a trade that sent All-NBA guard Russell Westbrook to Washington, finished with 13 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals in just under 19 minutes of action. The former No. 1 overall pick was a plus-27 in his time on the court while flashing his familiar flair for attacking the basket. Wall, who has undergone knee, foot and Achilles surgeries, has not played a regular-season game since Dec. 26, 2018.

Cousins, meanwhile, showed both range and activity in under 15 minutes played, putting up 14 points, five rebounds, two blocks and two steals. The four-time All-Star drilled three of his four attempts from 3-point range while also showing active hands on the defensive end. Cousins did not play last season after suffering a torn ACL during a preseason workout with the Lakers. A torn quadriceps and ruptured Achilles’ also severely shortened his previous two seasons.

Wall and Cousins’ respective impacts could play an even larger role for Houston depending on the future of James Harden. The perennial Kia MVP candidate has reportedly requested a trade after spending the last eight seasons with the Rockets. Harden reported late to Houston’s training camp and is undergoing the league’s COVID-19 safety protocol before returning to action.