The National Basketball Association (NBA) started to a plethora of entertaining games with fans anticipating the effect LeBron James will have on the Los Angeles Lakers who are seeking for their first title in over a decade.
The Golden State Warriors are also gunning for a third straight title with other teams such as the Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics looking to upset the order.
Here is a recap of the matches played on Wednesday night:
Timberwolves 108, Spurs 112
DeMar DeRozan had 28 points in his San Antonio debut, LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points and 19 rebounds and the Spurs overcame a 23-point performance by Minnesota’s Jimmy Butler in a 112-108 victory during a match-up of teams coming off a tumultuous offseason.
DeRozan was acquired from Toronto after the Spurs responded to Kawhi Leonard’s trade demands by dealing their star forward and Danny Green for the Raptors’ All-Star guard and Jakob Poeltl.
Raptors 116, Cavaliers 104
Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in his Toronto debut in defeating visiting Cleveland.
Kyle Lowry had 27 points and eight assists for the Raptors. Fred VanVleet added 14 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 points and Danny Green chipped in with 11. Jonas Valanciunas grabbed 12 rebounds. Leonard and Green were acquired by Toronto from the Spurs in a July trade.
Kevin Love scored 21 points and added seven rebounds for the Cavaliers, and Cedi Osman had 17 points and 10 rebounds. George Hill and Jordan Clarkson each added 15 points, and Rodney Hood scored 12.
Pelicans 131, Rockets 112
Anthony Davis had 32 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, and Nikola Mirotic scored 30 points to lead New Orleans past Houston.
Davis added three blocks and three steals, Mirotic was 6 of 8 from 3-point range, and Julius Randle had 25 points off the bench.
Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 21 points off the bench, and P.J. Tucker and Chris Paul each added 19 points. James Harden had 18 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.
Bucks 113, Hornets 112
Giannis Antetokounmpo came within two assists of a triple-double as Milwaukee, in Mike Budenholzer’s first game as coach, held on to defeat host Charlotte, with James Borrego debuting as its coach.
Antetokounmpo, who finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, hit two free throws with 23.7 seconds remaining to give the Bucks the lead for good at 113-112. The Bucks then held on as Charlotte’s Kemba Walker missed a short jumper and Nicolas Batum missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
The Bucks led by as many as 20 on several occasions in the first half but had to come from behind in the final minute after Walker, who scored 41 points, rallied the Hornets. He hit two free throws with 36.3 seconds left for a 112-111 Charlotte lead.
Knicks 126, Hawks 107
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 31 points, sparking the Knicks during their franchise-record, 49-point second quarter, and New York beat Atlanta in its first game under coach David Fizdale.
Hardaway had 16 points in the period when the Knicks matched the Hawks’ point total for the entire first half. New York led 72-49 at the break.
Trae Young finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists, shooting 5 for 14 in his NBA debut. Taurean Prince scored 21 points for the Hawks, who were overwhelmed in their first game under Lloyd Pierce. Four other Knicks scored at least 15, while rookie Kevin Knox finished with 10 and was just 4 for 16.
Hardaway and the Knicks started slowly, as he had missed his first four shots and the Knicks started 0 for 9 when they took a timeout trailing 10-2. During that break, George Holmes of Northport, New York, nailed a halfcourt shot to win $10,000, and suddenly the New Yorkers couldn’t miss.
Pistons 103, Nets 100
Andre Drummond totalled 24 points, 20 rebounds and came up with a significant defensive play in the final seconds as Detroit held off visiting Brooklyn to make a winner of new coach Dwane Casey.
Drummond produced his 52nd career 20-20 game, but it was his defence that gave the Pistons a win in Casey’s debut with the team. With 15 seconds to play, the Pistons held a 101-100 lead and the Nets had a chance to go ahead, but Drummond forced a turnover.
After Drummond’s defensive stand, Reggie Jackson hit two free throws with 6.2 seconds left. The Nets’ Joe Harris missed a well-contested 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Blake Griffin secured the rebound. Griffin led the Pistons with 26 points while adding eight rebounds and six assists, while Brooklyn’s Caris LeVert led all scorers with 27.
Pacers 111, Grizzlies 83
Indiana held Memphis to 18 points in the first 17 minutes of its season, running off to a big lead and coasting to victory in Indianapolis.
Bojan Bogdanovic hit his first six shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, en route to a team-high 19 points, and Victor Oladipo added 16 as the Pacers blew out a Grizzlies team they had struggled to sweep in the two-game season series last year.
Despite missing nine of his 11 shots, Marc Gasol led Memphis with 13 points.
Magic 104, Heat 101
Aaron Gordon had 26 points and 16 rebounds, leading host Orlando past Miami.
With the Heat trailing by one point and just 2.3 seconds left, Miami’s Josh Richardson stepped out of bounds while trying to make a baseline drive, allowing Orlando to hold on for the win.
Gordon made 9 of 18 shots from the floor, including 4 of 5 from 3-point range. Magic backup centre Mohamed Bamba, the sixth player selected in the 2018 NBA Draft, had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in his league debut.
Jazz 123, Kings 117
Donovan Mitchell scored 24 points while Joe Ingles added 22 points on 9-of-12 shooting, lifting Utah to a victory at Sacramento.
Rudy Gobert added 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for the Jazz. Derrick Favors chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds. Utah overcame a 16-point first-half deficit behind 39 bench points — 13 apiece for Alec Burks, Dante Exum and Jae Crowder — and 48.1 per cent shooting from beyond the 3-point arc.
Willie Cauley-Stein scored 23 points to lead the Kings. De’Aaron Fox added 21 points, Buddy Hield chipped in 19, and Nemanja Bjelica had 18.
Suns 121, Mavericks 100
Devin Booker poured in 19 of his game-high 35 points during the crucial fourth quarter, including 14 in a row, as host Phoenix staved off Dallas. The new-look Suns trailed just once in the game, 2-0.
Phoenix’s Deandre Ayton started his NBA career with a double-double, notching 18 points, on 8-of-11 shooting, and 10 rebounds while adding six assists and a steal. Free agent signee Trevor Ariza scored 21 points and drained five 3-pointers as the Suns hit 19 of 34 from beyond the arc.
Dallas, just 10 of 33 from behind the arc, was led by reserve forward Dwight Powell’s 16 points. His eight fourth-quarter points finally sparked the Mavs, who trailed 99-94 with five minutes to play before getting outscored 22-6.
Nuggets 107, Clippers 98
Nikola Jokic scored 21 points, including a tiebreaking putback with 1:24 left, and Denver rallied to win at Los Angeles.
Gary Harris had 20 points, and Will Barton scored 19 for the Nuggets, who scored eight straight points in the final 90 seconds to pull away for the victory.
Tobias Harris led the Clippers with 19 points and 10 rebounds, Boban Marjanovic scored 18 points, and Danilo Gallinari finished with 16 points before fouling out.