|Saturday, October 21, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Magic||vs.||Cavaliers||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Magic try to find a way to beat Cavaliers
Saturday, October 21 at 1:37 AM (EDT)
CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic share a streak that one side enjoys and the other could really do without.
And this streak -- the Cavs have won 17 straight over the Magic -- could be on the line with the starting point guards for both teams out because of injury.
The Magic, who lost 126-121 to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday, have not beaten Cleveland since Nov. 23, 2012. It's the longest winning streak for the Cavs against any team in franchise history. It is also the longest losing streak against any team for Orlando.
The Cavs (2-0) beat the Milwaukee Bucks 116-97 on Friday night but lost Derrick Rose to a sprained left ankle early in the fourth quarter. Magic point guard Elfrid Payton left Friday's loss just before halftime with a strained left hamstring.
Also, forward Aaron Gordon didn't play for the Magic because of a sore left ankle.
"It's frustrating because we should have won the game, but with the defensive mistakes we made, we really didn't deserve to win it," Orlando's Evan Fournier said, according to the Magic's website.
Fournier scored 22 points for Orlando. Nikola Vucevic had a career-high 41 points in the loss.
The Nets blistered the Magic with 60 points in the paint.
"Our defense is what lost us this game," Vucevic said, according to the Magic website. "We were able to score, but we never got stops and we could never play our game, which is using the faster pace. And when we did get stops they got offensive rebounds and we fouled a lot. We just didn't get it done on that (defensive) end."
Rose was hurt with 10:12 left in the fourth quarter against Milwaukee. He was tackled around the neck by Bucks center Greg Monroe and twisted an ankle when he fell.
Coach Tyronn Lue said Rose's ankle was sprained and it was unlikely he'd played against the Magic. Lue said Jose Calderon would probably start.
Rose, who finished with 12 points, wanted a flagrant foul called on Monroe. Refs assessed a common foul after reviewing the play.
"I think I'm the only person in the league that's not getting a flagrant for that call," Rose said. "Come on, man. Like, I'm sure I'm the only the player, but it is what it is."
LeBron James led the Cavs with 24 points and Kyle Korver came off the bench to score 17 points with five 3-pointers.
Cleveland, which underwent a significant overhaul to its roster after reaching three straight Finals, received 45 points from its bench. The Cavs have also kept their first two opponents under 100 points.
"It means a lot," Lue said. "I think defensively we've still got things to work on and it's early in the season, but the effort is there, the rotations are there. Guys are helping one another. Just got to continue to keep building on that."
|Mavericks||vs.||Rockets||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Rockets to play home opener vs. Mavs without Paul
Saturday, October 21 at 2:05 AM (EDT)
The Houston Rockets will show off a new look, but one that won't include star point guard Chris Paul when they make their 2017-18 home debut against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.
Paul made a nice splash in his first game for the Rockets with 11 assists and four points in a national showcase road win over the championship-celebrating Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night. But he played through pain in his right knee in the 33-minute effort, and 24 hours later sat out a 105-100 win up the road at Sacramento.
The Rockets announced Friday that Paul will not play in Saturday's home opener, and it was subsequently reported that he could miss two to four weeks rehabbing the injury he suffered banging knees with Memphis' Mario Chalmers on Oct. 11.
"If I'm ready, trust me. You don't ever have to worry about me sitting if I'm fine," Paul insisted at practice Friday, later noting he and team management are more concerned about the "big picture" than winning any single game.
After joining the Portland Trail Blazers as the only teams to open the 2017-18 season with two road wins, the Rockets will put their perfect overall record on the line against Dallas, which tipped off with home losses to Atlanta and Sacramento.
To add injury to insult, the Mavericks had to go Friday night without impressive rookie Dennis Smith Jr., whose left knee swelled up after he'd debuted with 16 points and 10 assists against Atlanta.
Smith also will not suit up Saturday night.
"It doesn't make any sense to rush through the weekend," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle cautioned Friday night. "Doc checked him out, and we think he's going to be fine."
The Rockets' new look has featured improvements offensively and defensively.
One big reason they were able to outlast the Warriors in a high-scoring game was the play of the only three guys they used off the bench -- Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute.
They not only combined for 58 points, outscoring the Golden State reserves by 10 points, but newcomers Tucker and Mbah a Moute, both considered defensive standouts, shared in an effort that held Warriors star Kevin Durant scoreless for the first quarter and to 20 points overall.
Durant had averaged 35.5 points against the Rockets last year, during which Golden State won the season series 3-1.
Houston is still led by James Harden, who had 27 points in each of the wins.
But he has had just one double-double, limited to nine assists against the Kings and totaling no more than six rebounds in either game.
Harden had two double-doubles when the Rockets swept the four-game season series from their Texas rival last season.
The Mavericks have lost three in a row at Houston and trail 90-81 in the all-time series.
Dallas so far has been hampered by poor 3-point defense -- the Hawks and Kings combined to go 19 of 41 (46.3 percent) from beyond the arc -- and the lackluster play of Dirk Nowitzki, who has totaled just 20 points on 8-of-23 shooting (34.8 percent).
|Pacers||vs.||Heat||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Heat, Pacers both missing big men
Saturday, October 21 at 3:10 AM (EDT)
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat will be without center Hassan Whiteside and the Indiana Pacers will play their second straight game without big man Myles Turner when the teams meet on Saturday night.
Whiteside has a bruised left knee while Turner is dealing with a concussion. The Heat (0-1) will be the more rested team and they will also have the benefit of home court when they host the Pacers (1-1).
It's Miami home opener and the first of six straight games at AmericanAirlines Arena -- Miami's longest homestand of the season.
The Heat have brought back 11 players from last season's team that finished with a 30-11 run but fell just short of the playoffs due to a nightmarish start.
"It feels like it's been a two-year offseason," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told The Miami Herald. "That's what happens when you miss the playoffs."
The Heat want to avoid another bad start, and they'd like to put Tuesday's loss to the Orlando Magic behind them as quickly as possible.
A win over the Pacers would accomplish that, but Indiana -- like most teams at this point in the season -- is optimistic about its own potential.
This is the first time since before the 2010 NBA Draft that four-time All-Star wing Paul George is not on the Indiana roster. George, who will be a free agent in 2018, demanded a trade, and the Pacers shipped him to Oklahoma City in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.
Oladipo has moved right into the starting lineup as a shooting guard, scoring a team-high 22 points in his Indiana debut on Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets. Sabonis came off the bench to score 16 points on 7-of-7 shooting.
"I have no doubt (Oladipo and Sabonis) are starting-caliber player," Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard told Lindy's Sports. "They are top-level talents."
Oladipo, who starred at the University of Indiana, said he is overjoyed to be playing for the Pacers.
"This is where it all started for me," Oladipo told Lindy's. "I'm a Hoosier. Representing the Pacers organization is a blessing."
Besides trading George, Indiana has had four other rotation players depart -- Monta Ellis, Jeff Teague, C.J. Miles and Rodney Stuckey.
Turner, just 21 and in his third year in the league, is supposed to be one of Indiana's leaders. The 6-foot-11 power forward, a first-round pick out of Texas in 2015, averaged 14.5 points and 7.3 rebounds last season.
Veterans Thaddeus Young at small forward and Darrin Collison at point guard join Oladipo and 3-point shooter Bojan Bogdanovic in the starting lineup. Sabonis is filling in for Turner.
Cory Joseph and Lance Stephenson are the leaders of the Pacers' bench brigade, and coach Nate McMillan has Indiana playing an up-tempo offensive style.
For Miami, Whiteside will be tough to replace. He had a 26-point, 22-rebound performance against Orlando.
"I was wearing padding everywhere but on my knee," Whiteside told The Miami Herald of his injury. "We just have to get the swelling out. It's day to day -- it could've been worse."
Kelly Olynyk, a former Boston Celtics power forward, will likely move from power forward to center. James Johnson could move from the bench to starting power forward.
Miami, which has also won five straight regular-season home games against Indiana, should be confident on Saturday.
This is a veteran Heat team with playoff aspirations, and that's why the Pacers game is important. That 11-30 start the Heat experienced last season is something Miami badly wants to avoid.
|Pistons||vs.||Knicks||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Knicks PG Ntilikina expects to miss Pistons matchup
Saturday, October 21 at 2:48 AM (EDT)
NEW YORK -- Two days after surviving a 24-point effort by Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker in a 12-point season-opening win, the Detroit Pistons were not quite so lucky on Friday as John Wall's 27 points lifted the Washington Wizards to a 115-111 win.
The Pistons will have one less point guard to worry about on Saturday night in New York as the Knicks kick off their Madison Square Garden slate with a 8 p.m. matchup.
Knicks top draft pick Frank Ntilikina suffered a sprained ankle in Friday's practice and is expected to miss the matchup on Saturday, robbing New York fans of their first live look at their projected point guard of the future.
"Looked like I thought he maybe stepped on Willy's (Hernangomez's) foot," coach Jeff Hornacek told Newsday. "He went to box him out and it looked like he stepped on his foot. Hopefully, it's not too bad."
The post-Carmelo Anthony era was already off to a bad start for the Knicks, who lost their road opener to Anthony's new team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, 105-84 on Thursday. Ntilikina's injury leaves the team even thinner in the backcourt, where the Knicks were torched by Russell Westbrook and Co. on Thursday.
New York's six-man rotation of point guards Ramon Sessions and Ntilikina and shooting guards Courtney Lee, Tim Hardaway Jr., Ron Baker and Damyean Dotson combined for 26 total points in 115 minutes.
Detroit's retooled backcourt, meanwhile, is off to a solid start with the addition of Avery Bradley, who has formed a potent combo with mainstay Reggie Jackson. Jackson himself is a new player after an injury-plagued 2016-17 season.
"I need him to make our team go," Detroit center Andre Drummond told reporters. "Everybody knows Reggie is one of the best point guards in the league, but I needed him to get everyone else involved."
Saturday's matchup will also provide a prime matchup between two of the premier young big men in the league in New York's Kristaps Porzingis and Drummond.
Porzingis, the Knicks' do-everything power forward, appears poised to take the scoring mantle from Anthony, as his 31-point 12-rebound effort paced New York in the season opener. Porzingis was asked by reporters whether he is ready to assume the reins from Anthony as the unquestioned Knicks leader, and he seemed up to the task.
"I never doubt myself," Porzingis told reporters on Thursday. "I never feel I'm not ready for something, even if it's the most difficult challenge in my life. I had a great experience watching Melo, how he does stuff on and off the court. ... We're going to realize as we go forward how much pressure he took off of everybody and how valuable a player like that actually is."
Drummond, Detroit's defensively dominant center, is off to a meager start on offense with just 17 points in two games, but his 25 rebounds are among the best in the league. Two years removed from his first and only All-Star appearance in 2015-16, when he led the league in rebounds with 14.8, the Pistons are hoping Drummond's offense jumps a notch or two.
For the Knicks, eager to turn the page from a drama-filled past few seasons with Anthony, the Pistons provide a good opportunity, though they might also be without forward Michael Beasley after he suffered a sprained ankle against the Thunder.
|Spurs||vs.||Bulls||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Drama-filled Bulls set to face drama-less Spurs
Friday, October 20 at 8:25 PM (EDT)
CHICAGO -- As the Chicago Bulls embark on a multi-year rebuilding process, they do so understanding there will be plenty of difficult moments along the way.
Just one game into the new season, a young team filled with fresh, new faces has already experienced its share of drama. A fight in practice this week left forward Nikola Mirotic sidelined for 4-6 weeks and forward Bobby Portis suspended for eight games for punching Mirotic, who suffered facial fractures and a concussion in the altercation.
The Bulls open their home slate on Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs following a 117-100 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday. After staying close for the first quarter, Chicago was outscored 30-4 to begin the second quarter. Just like that, the reality of the uphill climb the Bulls will face all season began to set in.
"It's about giving great effort, playing for each other, doing some of the good things we did in our (training) camp by playing with pace and unselfishness," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said after the loss, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Without Portis and Mirotic, the Bulls will face the Spurs at far from full strength. Chicago also remains without guards Zach LaVine (knee), Kris Dunn (left index finger) and Cameron Payne (foot).
Portis returned to practice Friday and has apologized for his actions, Hoiberg said. But Hoiberg told reporters that the job of himself and his coaches is to help players adjust to new positions they must play while Chicago remains short-handed.
Until the Bulls are able to heal up, they will depend on center Robin Lopez, who scored 18 points against Toronto to go along with 17 points and eight rebounds from rookie Lauri Markkanen in his NBA debut.
"You learn a lot every game you play, so I've gotten more comfortable every time I've stepped on the court," Markkanen told reporters Thursday night, according to the Tribune.
San Antonio enters Saturday's road opener after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-99 Wednesday night.
The Spurs won despite playing without last year's leading scorer Kawhi Leonard and veteran guard Tony Parker. Leonard is out with right quadriceps tendinopathy while Parker is out until mid-November after undergoing surgery on his left quadriceps tendon.
LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Wednesday's victory, will need to continue to pace the Spurs until Leonard and Parker are able to return.
"I'm just going to play and whatever happens, happens," Aldridge told reporters after Wednesday's victory. "I'm more comfortable for sure. Playing more confident. Hopefully that translates to us being better out there."
Danny Green will help carry the load after he scored 17 points Wednesday against Minnesota while Rudy Gay, who signed with San Antonio in the offseason, finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
Gay played Wednesday for the first time since last January, when he tore his Achilles tendon. Now healthy, Gay hopes to contribute to his new team after working so hard to return to the court.
"Man, it felt good (to play)," Gay told reporters on Wednesday. "I kind of got emotional in the game just because I've been through so much these last couple of months. I've been getting so many text messages that motivate me to keep going. It just reminds me of what I've been through these last couple of months."
|Warriors||vs.||Grizzlies||8:00 (EDT) Preview|
Grizzlies run into Warriors in second home game
Saturday, October 21 at 3:56 AM (EDT)
The Memphis Grizzlies will test their new up-tempo style against the best defense the NBA had to offer last season when they attempt to open 2-0 at home at the expense of the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
The Grizzlies dazzled the home crowd with 103 points, up 2 1/2 from last year's 29th-in-the-league scoring average despite playing with three new starters in their 103-91 home-opening win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
Memphis took eight more shots, including two more 3-pointers, than last year's averages, both of which also ranked in the bottom 10 in the league.
The faster pace plays to the preferred style of point guard Mike Conley, who hit nine of his 15 shots and four of his nine 3-point attempts in a 27-point opener.
Conley worked best with rookie Dillon Brooks, a former Oregon standout who was still on the board when the Grizzlies made the 45th pick of the second round in June.
Brooks came off the bench to pour in 19 points in 29 minutes. More impressive is the fact that the Grizzlies were a plus-17 on the scoreboard while he was on the court.
"Man, somebody made a mistake not drafting (Brooks earlier)," Conley said after the game.
The Grizzlies, who have had two days off, will be facing a Warriors team that began a road back-to-back with a 128-120 win over New Orleans in the Pelicans' home opener on Friday night.
The Warriors, coming off a home loss to Houston on Tuesday, had to rally from 15 down to subdue the Pelicans, getting a combined 61 points from their All-Star backcourt of Klay Thompson (33 points) and Stephen Curry (28).
Memphis played Golden State as well as anybody last season, handing the Warriors two of their 15 regular-season losses, including a 110-89 drubbing last December at the FedExForum.
The Warriors survived an early-season scare when Draymond Green was able to return to action in New Orleans after leaving the Houston game in the third quarter with a strained knee.
An MRI was negative and Green was back in the starting lineup against the Pelicans, logging 36 minutes and chipping in eight points, seven assists and five rebounds to the hard-fought win.
Nonetheless, the Warriors once again did not play like champions, coach Steve Kerr said afterward.
"We're just not ready to put together a complete game," he said. "We're basically still in training camp. We're still working on everything and that's pretty obvious."
Super-sub Andre Iguodala also returned for the Warriors against the Pelicans, after having missed the opener with a sore back. He had a productive 24 minutes, registering seven points, seven rebounds and four assists.
The Grizzlies, meanwhile, will be the team hurting a bit Saturday night. Starting forward JaMichael Green sprained his left ankle four minutes into the opening game and had to leave the contest.
He likely will be out at least through the end of the month.
Green had been one of just three holdover starters, joining Conley and center Marc Gasol, in the wake of veterans Zach Randolph and Tony Allen leaving the team in the offseason.
Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out in the win over New Orleans.
|Trail Blazers||vs.||Bucks||8:30 (EDT) Preview|
Bucks move on to next game against Trail Blazers
Saturday, October 21 at 3:45 AM (EDT)
MILWAUKEE -- After the Milwaukee Bucks opened the season with games against Boston and Cleveland, it would be easy to look at a Saturday night date with the Portland Trail Blazers as a bit of relief for the Bucks.
Head coach Jason Kidd, however, is quick to offer a dose of reality.
"It's the NBA," Kidd said. "There are no easy wins in this league. You can get beat on any given night. We started with Boston and Cleveland, now we have to face Portland. We've got a tough task, no matter who we're playing."
That task will be especially tough if the Bucks continue to make Giannis Antetokounmpo carry the offensive load. Last year's Most Improved Player award winner had another big night Friday with his second 30-point game of the season while flirting with a triple-double.
But the rest of Milwaukee's roster managed to shoot a paltry 38 percent from the field.
"Giannis scored a lot of points," Kidd said, "but he needs his teammates to make some open shots and take the pressure off him."
Getting Khris Middleton going would be a step in the right direction. Middleton struggled again, missing all five of his 3-point shots and finishing with eight points. He went 6 of 17 in the opener, including 1 of 5 from distance, but Kidd isn't ready to sound an alarm just yet.
"You have slow starts, you have quick starts, but it's how you finish the marathon," he said. "Right now, we're not going to panic about Khris not making shots. He's going to make shots. That's who he is."
Milwaukee will also need to find a way to shore up its defense if it wants to stop Portland, which is averaging 119.0 points through its first two games this season.
Portland opened the season with a rout of Phoenix and followed that up Friday with an 18-point victory at Indiana.
CJ McCollum returned from a one-game suspension, restoring Portland's dangerous 1-2 punch of McCollum and Damian Lillard.
But while that duo attracts most of the attention, forward Al-Farouq Aminu has been making a big impact on the defensive end, averaging 12.0 rebounds. He scored 16 on Friday night on 7-of-13 shooting from the floor.
"He's the glue," McCollum said. "He's awesome. He does a lot of the dirty work, doesn't get a lot of credit. He rebounds, he plays defense, he switches on the centers, he makes corner 3s for us. If we can get him to play like that all season, we'll be special."
Portland's offense gets most of the attention, but the Trail Blazers have been a pretty good defensive squad so far, holding opponents to an average of 86.0 points on 31.5 percent shooting.
"We've had a lot of fun actually playing defense," Lillard said. "We see what it can do for us."
The Bucks swept the series against Portland last season. The Blazers haven't won in Milwaukee since Nov. 20, 2013, but are 4-4 in the last eight meetings overall.
|Kings||vs.||Nuggets||9:00 (EDT) Preview|
Nuggets hope to avoid fade route vs. Kings
Saturday, October 21 at 3:21 AM (EDT)
For three quarters Wednesday night, the Denver Nuggets looked like a team ready to take the next step.
They controlled the Utah Jazz, leading by as many as 15 points and moving the ball. Then it all came apart. From late in the third quarter to late in the fourth, the Jazz outscored Denver 33-7 to turn a 10-point deficit into a 16-point lead. The Nuggets lost by 10 but the bigger question is whether they lost their confidence.
Denver (0-1) gets to show how it can respond when it hosts the Sacramento Kings in its home opener Saturday night. Paul Millsap, the Nuggets' big free-agent signing of the summer, will play his first meaningful game at Pepsi Center since joining the team. He had a solid debut with 19 points and six rebounds but couldn't get the Nuggets over the top in a 106-96 loss to Utah.
The team was understandably disappointed with the loss.
"We have to be better when it's winning time," Will Barton, who led the Nuggets with 23 points off the bench, said after the game.
They get a little advantage for the home opener. The Kings (1-1) beat the Mavericks 93-88 in Dallas on Friday night and will have to play a Denver team determined to push the pace.
Sacramento lost its home opener to Houston on Wednesday but got a balanced performance in the setback. The Kings also debuted a couple of dynamic rookies in Justin Jackson and De'Aaron Fox. Jackson started and scored five points and Fox had 14 off the bench.
The young Kings didn't wilt in that game, either.
"To see so many young guys in our rotation, and we didn't give up, is very encouraging," guard Garrett Temple told The Sacramento Bee.
Forward Zach Randolph made his Sacramento debut against Dallas after missing the opener due to oral surgery. He had 13 points and six rebounds against the Mavericks. Sacramento was led by George Hill, who had 21 points.
The Kings made bigger news off the court Friday when they added former Sacramento Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek to the staff as an assistant player development coach. Boucek, who coached the Monarchs of the WNBA for two seasons, worked with the Kings during training camp.
The Nuggets also made a significant move, officially signing veteran Richard Jefferson and waiving guard Jameer Nelson. Jefferson was released by Atlanta after the Hawks acquired him from Cleveland. Jefferson won a title with the Cavaliers in 2016 and has been to the NBA Finals four times, so he brings a winning pedigree to the locker room.
The 37-year-old forward probably won't get much playing time, but he is happy to be reunited with head coach Michael Malone, who was an assistant with Golden State during Jefferson's two seasons with the Warriors.
"I'm so old I don't care about what my playing role is," Jefferson told the Denver Post. "I'm just glad I have a job."
The Nuggets hope he can help the young team reach the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. Nelson was the steady leader at point guard but now that position is in the hands of 20-year-old Jamal Murray and 21-year-old Emmanuel Mudiay.
Jefferson is ready for the challenge.
"My job as a professional is not only to perform but also put my team in the best position," Jefferson told the Denver Post. "The only thing I'm doing is what older players did for me when I was a younger player. All I'm doing is paying it forward."
|Thunder||vs.||Jazz||9:00 (EDT) Preview|
Jazz get first glimpse at retooled Thunder
Saturday, October 21 at 3:38 AM (EDT)
SALT LAKE CITY -- Offensive firepower isn't the only thing new-look Oklahoma City has to offer. The Thunder are showing early signs of being equally capable of overwhelming opponents on the defensive end.
Oklahoma City made a big defensive statement in its season opener. The Thunder forced New York to commit 26 turnovers and turned them into 37 points en route to a 105-84 victory over the Knicks.
It should serve Oklahoma City well when the Thunder visit the Utah Jazz on Saturday night.
"By playing great defense, especially this early in the season where probably most teams are trying to find their way, it gives you at least a little bit of room where if you don't have a great offensive night or are trying to figure it out offensively, you can really fall back to your defense," Thunder coach Billy Donovan told reporters after the game.
Stifling defense helped Oklahoma City survive some sloppiness on offense. The Thunder turned the ball over 20 times. It didn't have as big an impact as it could have had because they limited transition baskets on the other end. The Knicks scored just 10 total points off those Oklahoma City turnovers.
Once the Thunder shook off some of the cobwebs, they offered a glimpse of what their offense can do now that Paul George and Carmelo Anthony have teamed up with Russell Westbrook.
The trio combined for 71 points in their first regular-season game together. Westbrook tacked on 16 rebounds and 10 assists with his 21 points to earn his first triple-double of the season.
"We all have a unique skill set and it's great that we can kind of come together and use our tools and elevate this team," George said.
Tough defense remains a trademark for Utah while it works on replacing offensive production lost as a result of the departures of Gordon Hayward and George Hill in free agency.
The Jazz did well on that end in their 106-96 win over Denver on Wednesday. Six different players scored in double figures, led by Rudy Gobert with 18 points. Utah made a much more lasting mark on the defensive end. The Jazz used a 31-5 run to take control against the Nuggets and allowed a total of five field goals over the final 13 minutes.
Things didn't go quite as smoothly for Utah against Minnesota on Friday night. The Jazz mounted a late rally again, with all five starters scoring in double figures, but came up short in a 100-97 loss to the Timberwolves. Derrick Favors, Gobert and Joe Johnson all had cracks at a tying basket in the final seconds, but couldn't get the ball to drop.
Utah ultimately lost one of its top offensive weapons as well. Rodney Hood led Utah with 20 points, but he was carried off the floor by his teammates after suffering an apparent lower-leg injury during the fourth quarter.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder believes the offense will flow consistently, no matter who is on the floor, as long as Utah embraces tough defense and unselfish play on both ends.
"I think that the thing we've built over the last three years is a defensive identity," Snyder said. "We want to continue to see that from this group every time we play. The other thing that we have emphasized, and I think we've lived it, is we have been an unselfish group. Those two things I think are constant."
Oklahoma City won the series with Utah 3-1 last season. The Thunder won 97-95 on Jan. 23 in their most recent trip to Salt Lake City. Westbrook poured in 38 points to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists to lead the way.
|Suns||vs.||Clippers||10:30 (EDT) Preview|
Clippers stay in LA to play Suns in home opener
Saturday, October 21 at 2:57 AM (EDT)
LOS ANGELES -- In what is technically their home opener, the Los Angeles Clippers will take on the Phoenix Suns to close out the opening week of the NBA season on Saturday, having already delivered a victory in their own building.
A win at Staples Center on Thursday over the Los Angeles Lakers not only kicked off the season in style for the Clippers, it was a show of appreciation for the early gift from the schedule maker. The Clippers are opening the season by playing eight of their first nine games in Los Angeles.
The Suns, meanwhile, will head out on the road knowing their first two games at home created more questions than answers. The Suns lost 132-130 on Friday night to the same Lakers team the Clippers defeated on the "road."
Playing games on consecutive nights so early in the season should not come as a detriment, but the Suns have been short-staffed without center Alex Len (ankle), guard Davon Reed (knee) and forward Jared Dudley (toe). Len made his season debut Friday, playing 21 minutes while scoring four points.
Also affecting chemistry in the Suns' humbling 124-76 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in their opener was the fact that T.J. Warren missed time in the preseason because of a back injury. Warren played 27 minutes and scored 11 points while playing 39 minutes and scoring 24 points on Friday against the Lakers.
The 128 points per game the Suns have allowed so far show that defense will be a work in progress. On Friday against the Lakers, the defense was better, but the young Suns have obvious areas to improve.
"We can't come in here thinking our age is an issue," Suns coach Earl Watson said, according to The Arizona Republic. "When you get into this game, you get into this league you have to play a certain way, in the paint, out of the paint, mindset, continue to play every possession like it's your last.
"We have to play better, we have to play at a certain level, we have to play at a certain intensity."
The Clippers are a little farther along in the recovery process after dealing with their own injury issues in the preseason. The roster was completely intact for the season-opening victory over the Lakers, but Patrick Beverley (knee) and Austin Rivers (glute) had just returned.
Clippers newcomers like Danilo Gallinari (sprained left foot), Sam Dekker (strained left oblique), Sindarius Thornwell (sprained right shoulder) and Jamil Wilson (back spasms) had come back earlier in the week, giving the Clippers nearly as much of a chemistry test as the Suns have experienced.
Helping it all come together quickly was the fact that the Clippers' victory on Thursday was powered by team leaders Blake Griffin (29 points, 12 rebounds) and DeAndre Jordan (14 points, 24 rebounds).
"It's very important because we are two guys who have been here the longest," Griffin said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "As leaders of this team, I think it's important that we always set the tone.
"Even if we aren't always having great games, (we have) to be able to affect the game and affect our teammates in a positive way."
|76ers||vs.||Raptors||7:30 (EDT) Preview|
76ers shoot for win at their Toronto house of horrors
Saturday, October 21 at 1:55 AM (EDT)
TORONTO -- The Philadelphia 76ers will face a difficult task as they seek their first win of the season Saturday night against the Toronto Raptors.
The 76ers, who lost the series to the Raptors 3-1 last season, have dropped 15 of their past 16 games against Toronto, including nine in a row at Air Canada Centre.
The Sixers lost their home opener 102-92 on Friday night to the undermanned Boston Celtics at the Wells Fargo Center.
"We let one go," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We were up (nine), I think, in the third period and you felt like with a few more baskets that they might have gone away. I give the Celtics credit, but I really feel like we let one slip."
Ben Simmons had 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists on Friday, the first rookie in 76ers franchise history to start his career with back-to-back double-doubles and the 11th rookie in NBA history to do so.
"It's a learning experience for us with a lot of young guys, but we have to capitalize, especially in the third quarter after we come back out," Simmons said.
The 76ers (0-2) also lost their season opener on Wednesday 120-115 to the Washington Wizards at the Capital One Arena.
Center Joel Embiid said before the game Friday that he does not expect to play Saturday against Toronto. He has had foot and knee injuries early in his career and his playing time has been restricted in games. He has not yet been cleared to play on consecutive nights.
"I just want to feel like an NBA player," Embiid said. "I feel like I'm not an NBA player because I don't play back-to-backs."
He did not participate in the second half of back-to-back games last season to reduce the chance of injury.
"This (season), there's not a lot of back-to-backs," Embiid said. "I feel like I'll miss some, but I'm not sure when. But I'll definitely play some back-to-backs this year."
Embiid scored 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field and grabbed 14 rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Raptors (1-0) are trying to develop a more free-flowing, ball-moving offense with more emphasis on taking 3-pointers.
They also are going with a younger second unit led by 30-year-old veteran C.J. Miles, who went 6 of 9 on 3-pointers in scoring 22 points in the 117-100 win over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in the season opener.
Miles, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Jakob Poeltl and Delon Wright provided a big spark coming off the bench. They produced a 15-0 run early in the second quarter that gave Toronto a 17-point lead.
Wright finished with 13 points, second to Miles on the second unit, as the Raptors got 48 points from the bench on 51.6 (16-of-31) shooting.
The second unit figures to be prominent again Saturday.
"I was really impressed with the young group, they came in and didn't look like they were a deer in the headlights," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "C.J. (Miles) was plus-25, OG (Anunoby) was plus-26, so they came in and did their job. They expanded the lead and didn't lose it and really impressed."
Miles was acquired as a free agent for his ability to shoot 3-pointers.
Wright is in his third season but missed the first 41 games last season after having right shoulder surgery.
"He is very unorthodox, but he uses his length very well," Casey said. "He has really worked on his 3-point shot, you are not shocked when he knocks it down.
"He fits with Kyle (Lowry) kind of like Cory (Joseph) did last year. He does a good job of playing tag team with Kyle, which is great. I think he and Freddy (VanVleet) also are a good mix together, so it gives them a good identity with the second unit.
"That's what we want to do to develop those guys and make sure they establish that and maintain it. There are going to be some nights where they may not be as good, but we have to live with it and have them grow. I can see them growing through exhibition and training camp."
Sixers forward-center Amir Johnson played six seasons in Toronto (2009-15), averaging 8.8 points and 6.3 rebounds in 451 games. He is the Raptors' career leader in field goal shooting percentage (.572), fourth in total rebounds (2,836) and fifth in games played (451).
Philadelphia guard Jerryd Bayless averaged 10.5 points in 91 games (2010-12) with Toronto.
|Friday, October 20, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Crawford leads Timberwolves past Jazz
Saturday, October 21 at 12:11 AM (EDT)
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the Minnesota Timberwolves overhauled their roster in the offseason, the spotlight was on the acquisition of star Jimmy Butler and starters Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson.
Backup guard Jamal Crawford could well prove to be nearly as vital, with his ability to hit big shots.
Crawford provided the closing punch on Friday night that made him so attractive as a free agent. He scored 17 points, all in the fourth quarter, in Minnesota's nail-biting 100-97 win over the Utah Jazz.
"I think you saw," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said of Crawford's potential impact. "It's amazing. It doesn't take him much to get going."
Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Minnesota. Butler added 13 points as the Timberwolves overcame 26 turnovers and were just 7 of 22 from 3-point territory.
Rodney Hood led Utah with 20 points but had to be carried off the floor by teammates in the fourth quarter after suffering a left leg injury. Hood was unable to put any pressure on the leg and coach Quin Snyder said Hood has a calf strain that will be re-evaluated in Salt Lake City on Saturday.
Ricky Rubio had 19 points and 10 assists for the Jazz, making his way back to Minnesota after playing six seasons for the Timberwolves. Rubio was announced first for Utah before the game and received a standing ovation while waving to the crowd.
"Once the game starts, you forget a little bit of that, but it was emotional before the game, seeing all my friends," Rubio said. "Once the game starts up, it's 48 minutes and you're just trying to win."
Rubio nearly pulled it out as he kept the Jazz close late with a flurry of free throws.
The No. 5 overall draft pick by Minnesota in 2009, Rubio tied the score 95-all with 1:03 left. He connected on three free throws after being fouled on a 3-pointer by Teague, who replaced Rubio as the Timberwolves point guard.
Rubio stole the ball on the ensuing possession and was fouled, hitting 1 of 2 free throws. He made 10 of 11 free throws in the game.
"Ricky played a terrific game," Thibodeau said, smiling. "He did get 11 free throws, I'll leave it at that."
Out of a timeout, Crawford hit a 3 from the sideline with 27.5 seconds left. Crawford said he could see the rim when he started to shoot but lost sight as the defender closed out.
"Very comfortable," Crawford said of taking the shot. "I just work on it all the time. I only take shots I work on. To be very honest with you, I couldn't see the basket. But I've shot it so many times, I kind of knew. I just looked at the net when I was on the floor."
Butler closed out the game with two three throws and Joe Johnson's shot at the buzzer was short.
Rubio was traded in the offseason as Minnesota overhauled its starting unit with Butler, Gibson and Teague.
Wiggins, the third-year holdover, has led the team in scoring in both games. He gave the Timberwolves a jolt heading into halftime with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.
With Gordon Hayward leaving for Boston, Utah hoped for more offensively from Hood. The third-year swingman gave the Jazz the lead temporarily, scoring nine straight points on three 3s in the third.
"Leads, especially on the road, you want to make someone work to get points back," Snyder said. "It felt like, particularly on the offensive glass, they were the more aggressive team and that hurt us during that stretch.
"We're trying to figure it out a little bit right now. To come in and play against one of the top teams in the West and to be in the position that we were, where we had the ball and we're ahead at the end of the game, we didn't make plays to close the game."
NOTES: Utah coach Quin Snyder said G Raul Neto (hamstring) was available, but Neto didn't play for the second straight game as rookie Donovan Mitchell was the backup point guard. G Dante Exum was out with a left shoulder injury. F/G Rodney Hood returned after missing the opener with an illness. ... Jazz G/F Joe Johnson scored four points and passed Tom Chambers for 40th on the NBA's career scoring list. ... Minnesota G Jamal Crawford hit a 3-pointer to take sole possession for sixth in NBA history in 3-pointers made with 2,051. He's sixth among all active players in games played (1,183). ... Friday's game marked the first in the remodeled Target Center, complete with a new court, scoreboard and an overall brighter feel.
Kings erase early deficit in win over Mavericks
Saturday, October 21 at 12:18 AM (EDT)
DALLAS -- The Sacramento Kings played smash-mouth basketball with the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night and emerged with a hard-fought 93-88 victory at American Airlines Center.
With Willie Cauley-Stein hauling in 11 boards, the Kings won the rebounding battle by a sizeable 57-36 margin. In fact, eight of the 10 players who played for Sacramento each grabbed at least five boards.
The performance was more than enough to satisfy Kings coach Dave Joerger.
"We had nine guys get an offensive rebound," said Joerger after his teams squared their record at 1-1. "We're hustling.
"Happy group because it's the first win for almost 11 of those guys in a Kings uniform, so it's a good feeling and a good way to do it. We're going to have to scrap and do it together and it feels good in that (locker room) right now."
George Hill led the Kings with 21 points on 9-of-12 shots. Hill also came up with the crucial play of the game when he scored with 16.1 seconds left to give Sacramento a 91-86 lead.
"George Hill came up big down the stretch," Joerger said. "A lot of guys in the locker room that have been on the other side of a Zach Randolph where you need a bucket you throw it down on the right block.
"A lot of guys made a lot of big plays in different areas."
The Mavs (0-2) played without two guards who are in their rotation. Rookie sensation Dennis Smith Jr. sat out the game with a left knee effusion and Devin Harris also missed the game following the death of his brother, who was killed in an automobile accident early Thursday morning.
"He's got a little swelling -- not believed to be serious," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said of Smith, who also won't play in Saturday's game in Houston. "We hope he's OK for Monday (when the Mavs host the world champion Golden State Warriors."
Dallas went on a 12-0 run to take a 72-71 lead midway through the fourth quarter. But behind Hill, Randolph (13 points) Buddy Hield (13 points) and Cauley-Stein (10 points), the Kings regrouped and handcuffed the Mavs.
"They made a run in the fourth quarter and I felt like we responded," Kings rookie point guard De'Aaron Fox said. "Our veterans kept us in it."
Harrison Barnes paced the Mavs with 24 points and Dorian Finney-Smith and Yogi Ferrell each tallied 14 points. Dirk Nowitzki added 10 points for the Mavs.
"I think this season there's going to be a lot of games like tonight," Barnes said. "It's going to be close, it's going to come down to a couple of stops, a couple of rebounds here and there.
"Throughout the course of the game we went big and still got outrebounded. So, it's more of an effort or focus as opposed to line up and personal and that type of thing."
Hill liked the overall effort by the Kings, especially on the boards.
"This is still new to all of us, rotation-wise, lineups and things like that, seeing different schemes," Hill said. "I think we can only get better with experience and us playing.
"We're doing this right now with just a little bit of experience and a little bit of time together, so I think we have great length, great speed, things like that. It only can get better from here."
NOTES: Mavs rookie G Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday's game against the Sacramento Kings with a left knee effusion. ... Mavs G Devin Harris is out indefinitely after his brother was killed in a car accident in north Dallas. ... The Kings made it official and hired Jenny Boucek on Friday as an assistant player development coach. She worked with the Kings throughout training camp and the preseason. Boucek also was an assistant coach when the Seattle Storm captured the WNBA titles in 2004 and '10, and was the Storm's head coach from 2015-17. In addition, in over two years coaching the Sacramento Monarchs from 2007-09, Boucek posted a 40-41 record. ... Sacramento F Zach Randolph replaced F Skal Labissiere in the starting lineup against the Mavs. Randolph sat out the Kings' regular-season opener against Houston after undergoing oral surgery. In the 105-100 loss to Houston, Labissiere produced 12 points, 10 rebounds and a game-high five turnovers.
Warriors rebound from opening loss by beating Pelicans
Saturday, October 21 at 1:47 AM (EDT)
NEW ORLEANS -- The NBA has seen Kevin Durant fill up the basket with arching jumpers from the perimeter and high-flying dunks at the end of fast breaks. It is just now seeing him take control of a game on defense.
The 7-foot Golden State forward became a rim-protecting legend Friday night in the Warriors' 128-120 win over the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center.
Durant posted a career-high seven blocks. Two of his rejections, which came in a bang-bang exchange with Pelicans forward Tony Allen in the second quarter, came while Durant was sliding around the floor on one shoe, having to toss his other shoe in the direction of the Pelicans' bench in order to play defense.
"That's probably a record," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said with a laugh. "I thought KD's defense changed the game for us. We didn't have much bite to the game in the first half, and then KD's shot challenges and ball pressure in the second half were amazing, and that changed things."
Durant, who scored 22 points, said he hadn't had much experience playing defense with one shoe.
"Luckily, Tony Allen just put the ball right in my face and paused, and I was able to block his shot," Durant said. "But yeah, it was a good, all-around game for us. The first quarter obviously wasn't good defensively, but after that we played Warrior basketball."
The Pelicans (0-2) made eight 3-pointers in the first quarter and led 39-26, but they could not maintain the shooting pace in the face of the Warriors' suffocating defense.
Anthony Davis led the Pelicans with 35 points and 17 rebounds -- his final statistics are considered unofficial because of a computer crash in the final seven minutes of the game that the NBA office was working to resolve -- but it wasn't enough.
"We played great basketball, and you have to understand that they're the world champs," Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said. "We knew that they were going to make a run back at us and they did it. I thought we sustained the energy level that we needed to. Once again, we weren't going to make all of the shots that we were making early on."
Golden State forward David West said nothing amazes him about Durant and what he can do on the court.
"There are times he dunks the ball and he's almost on his tippy toes on the ground," West said. "I don't know how long that is. That's a part of who we are. He's 7 feet, so at times he's our best rim protector, particularly when he's in rotation and he gets a step or two. He can really cover some ground."
Unofficial statistics also had Klay Thompson with 33 points and Steph Curry with 28. Thompson said he is pleased with his start after getting out of the blocks slowly last season.
"Obviously, I've had a better start to the season this year," Thompson said. "I'm not satisfied though, because we're still 1-1. I got some good looks -- some open threes -- and it's easy to get rhythm."
The Warriors will finish their three-game road trip with games Saturday night against Memphis and Monday night against Dallas.
The Warriors used a 29-4 run bridging the final 1:57 of the first half and the first 3:57 of the third quarter to take a 77-66 lead. Thompson played a key role, blocking a perimeter shot by Jrue Holiday and then racing down court for a dunk.
Thompson added a 3-pointer on the Warriors' next possession, and Golden State led 98-90 after three.
NOTES: The Warriors have beaten the Pelicans in 22 of their last 23 meetings, including the last 12 and a 4-0 playoff sweep in 2015. ... Warriors G Shaun Livingston played in his 700th career regular-season game. ... Pelicans reserve C Alexis Ajinca is expected to miss four to six weeks after receiving shots in each knee for patellar tendinitis. ... Former Warriors G Ian Clark, who signed with the Pelicans in the offseason, will wait until Nov. 25 when New Orleans plays at Golden State to get his NBA championship ring. They look nice," Clark said. "I'm excited to get mine."
Ball has big game in Lakers' win over Suns
Saturday, October 21 at 2:39 AM (EDT)
PHOENIX -- Lonzo Ball took only six shots in his NBA debut Wednesday night, scored just three points, and the Los Angeles Lakers were blown out by the rival Clippers. So it was time for a reboot on Friday night.
"Last time I took six shots, it didn't work out too well," Ball said. "So I figured I would try something else."
And that's what Ball was. Something else.
Aggressive and focused, Ball took 27 shots, scored 29 points and barely missed a triple-double in his second NBA game with 11 rebounds and nine assists. And the Lakers needed every bit of it to hold off the Phoenix Suns for a 132-130 win.
"He definitely was being more aggressive," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "The great thing about him, what we like about him, is that he just plays basketball and he reads (the game).
"He shot so much because of the way they were defending him. If he gets trapped, he'll make the pass every time. That's why we think he's going to be a special player."
Ball is the first Laker to score 29 points in his first or second career game since at least 1963, bettering the 26 that Magic Johnson scored in his debut in 1979. Ball barely missed becoming the youngest NBA player with a triple-double, 27 days earlier than LeBron James.
"Today I did what I had to do to win. It doesn't take me long to learn," he said. "I learned a lot from last game ... it was my first time and people are going to criticize me regardless of what I do."
The Lakers led by 12 points in the fourth quarter before the Suns pulled within 122-119 on a Tyson Chandler tip-in with 3:22 left. But Ball scored the next three Lakers baskets, all on drives. The third basket put the Lakers up 130-122 with 1:35 left.
"If I see an open lane, I'm going to go," Ball said.
Los Angeles still had to hold on for the win. The Suns roared back and got as close as 131-130 on a Devin Booker 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left.
Then Los Angeles' Brandon Ingram, who scored 25 points, was fouled immediately and made one of two free throws to give Phoenix one more chance.
T.J. Warren had a shot to tie the score with 1.2 seconds left and the Suns down by two. But he missed the first free throw, purposely missed the second, grabbed his own rebound but shot an air ball as time expired.
"T.J. makes those free throws any other time," Phoenix coach Earl Watson said. "The hustle and fight from (both teams), you've got to commend them. But if these two programs are the future of the NBA, there's no defense in the future. It's defenseless."
Eric Bledsoe scored 28 points and Booker had 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists. Warren added 24 for Phoenix, who scored just 76 points in a humiliating 48-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday but nearly matched that total in the first half by taking a 73-70 halftime lead.
"We didn't get beat by 50 (points), that's always good," Booker said. "We came out with energy and fought, but we have a lot to work on. No wins yet, and 132 points is way too many."
What was Booker's impression of Ball?
"He's a good player. We knew that coming into the night," Booker said. "He does a little bit of everything and gets his team involved."
The Lakers took control of the game with a 36-point third quarter keyed by a 13-2 run in which Booker was called for a flagrant foul of Corey Brewer of the Lakers and then swapped technical fouls with Larry Nance Jr. after a brief shoving match.
Brook Lopez had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers.
NOTES: Lakers F Luol Deng, who started and played 13 minutes in the 108-92 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, was inactive. Corey Brewer started in his place. ... The Lakers were without G Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who served the second game his two-game NBA suspension. ... Suns C Alex Len, who missed Wednesday's loss to the Portland Trail Blazers with a sprained left ankle, made his season debut. ... The game featured the NBA's two youngest coaches in Luke Walton of the Lakers (37) and Earl Watson of the Suns (38) and two of the youngest rosters. Phoenix's average player age is 24.5 and Los Angeles averages 24.8.
LeBron in form as Cavs hobble Bucks
Friday, October 20 at 11:20 PM (EDT)
MILWAUKEE -- By his own admission, LeBron James still is not completely recovered from the left ankle injury that limited to just one preseason game.
But, if the Cleveland Cavaliers' first two games are any indication, even James on one leg is still better than most of the players he'll face.
James proved that again Friday, scoring 24 points with eight assists and five rebounds, leading the Cavaliers to a 116-97 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.
"We went over the game plan this morning at shootaround and we executed it," James said. "It's a good road win for us. To have seven new guys and we're still working on our lineups and things of that nature ... to come in on their home floor where they play pretty well, it's a big win for us."
James, who played 41 minutes in the season opener Tuesday, was on the court for 37 minutes Friday night. Though he was seen favoring the ankle slightly in the second half, he reported no serious problems after the game.
Fortunately for the Cavs, he didn't have to do it alone.
Kyle Korver and Kevin Love chipped in with 17 points each while Jae Crowder finished with 14 on 6-of-8 shooting and Derrick Rose added 12, including a perfect 6-for-6 showing from the free throw line.
After making just five 3-pointers in their season opener at Boston earlier in the week, the Cavs knocked down 11 of 26 attempts Friday -- five of them by Korver -- and shot 54.3 percent overall while dominating down low, where they outscored Milwaukee 64-60 and held a 43-31 advantage on the boards.
"The starting lineup was good," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. "We had a lot of great cuts early. They know how to play together, we just have to keep building on it and keep working."
But while the Cavs found a way to support their star, the Bucks couldn't do the same for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 34 points on 15-of-22 shooting with eight rebounds and eight assists, but the rest of the squad shot a combined 38.3 percent (23 of 60) from the floor.
Malcolm Brogdon did his part, hitting 6 of 12 shots -- including four 3-pointers -- to finish with 16 points, but Khris Middleton was flat for a second straight game and only scored eight while going 0 of 5 from distance.
"Giannis did a really good job trying to find the open guy and being aggressive," Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd said. "He scored a lot of points but he needs his teammates to make some open shots and take the pressure off him."
Aside from Korver, Cleveland (2-0) struggled from long range as well, especially in the first half. The Cavaliers were 2 of 12 on 3s in the opening half and James was held to five points but an 11-of-11 effort from the free-throw line and a 52.5 percent showing from the floor helped the Cavaliers take a 55-49 lead into halftime.
Milwaukee cut the deficit to a point after Thon Maker's 3-pointer made it a 64-63 game. The Cavs answered with a 7-0 run to go up 71-63 with 5:13 left in the quarter.
Antetokounmpo converted a three-point play to stop the bleeding, but Korver hit from distance on three straight possessions to put the Cavs up by a dozen as they closed the quarter with a 15-3 run and went into the fourth with an 86-73 lead.
"Korver came in and did his job," Kidd said. "Those three hurt us."
Milwaukee got no closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
NOTES: The Cavaliers will likely be without PG Derrick Rose Saturday when they host the Magic. Rose twisted his ankle and left the game after colliding with Greg Monroe in the second half. Head coach Tyronn Lue said Rose would be re-evaluated when the team returns to Cleveland. ... The Cavaliers have won four straight and eight of their last 10 meetings with the Bucks. ... Milwaukee signed F Joel Bolomboy and F Cliff Alexander to two-way contracts. Both will join the Bucks' G-League affiliate this season. ... Cleveland has made at least 10 3-pointers in five consecutive games against Milwaukee. ... Both teams were kicking off their first back-to-back stretches of the season Friday. The Cavs return home to host Orlando on Saturday evening while Milwaukee will face Portland at the Bradley Center.
Irving steps up as Celtics beat 76ers
Friday, October 20 at 11:23 PM (EDT)
PHILADELPHIA -- The Boston Celtics are missing Gordon Hayward and two other key players. But when it mattered most Friday night, Kyrie Irving most certainly was not missing.
Irving scored seven of his 21 points in a game-ending 18-8 run as the short-handed Celtics beat the Philadelphia 76ers 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
Asked about his late surge, Irving fairly shrugged.
"Come on, man," he said. "That's winning time, man."
Al Horford added 17 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which lost Hayward, their newly acquired forward, to a dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia in Tuesday's opener in Cleveland. He is expected to miss the entire season.
The Celtics (1-2) were also without starting guard Marcus Smart, who sprained both ankles in Wednesday's home opener against Milwaukee, and forward Marcus Morris, who is out with a sore left knee.
"Like I said before -- excuse my language again -- but (stuff) happens," said Irving, who came to Boston in an offseason trade with Cleveland. "This is the league we all signed up for."
He called it a gutsy win. Horford did not disagree.
"It just felt good to get a win," he said. "I know that it's a long season and everything, but we played two really tough games, lost them both. A lot of emotions going on in our locker room. We needed this. We needed to get it going."
Rookie Jayson Tatum added 15 points and Terry Rozier scored 14 off the bench for Boston, which outscored Philadelphia 33-20 in the fourth quarter and 46-27 in the last 16:20 to erase a nine-point deficit.
"We let one go," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. "We were up (nine), I think, in the third period and you felt like with a few more baskets that they might have gone away. I give the Celtics credit, but I really feel like we let one slip."
Horford's basket with 6:48 left snapped an 84-84 tie, and Tatum added a jumper to put Boston up by four. Irving then sandwiched two jumpers around a layup by Philadelphia's Robert Covington to make it 92-86.
With 1:34 left and the Celtics leading 95-90, Irving drew a foul from Jerryd Bayless on a 3-point attempt. He made all three free throws to give Boston a 98-90 cushion.
J.J. Redick scored 19 points and Bayless added 18 for the Sixers (0-2). Joel Embiid had 11 points and 14 rebounds but missed his first eight shots and finished 4 of 16 from the floor. Rookie Ben Simmons had 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Philadelphia went 6:43 without a field goal beginning midway through the first quarter, enabling Boston to go up 29-21 early in the second.
The Sixers drew even courtesy of their 3-point sniping. They made four in the opening minutes of the second quarter, the last by Redick to forge a 37-37 tie.
Boston surged back in front, but Simmons notched the first five points in a 7-0 run at the end of the half, putting Philadelphia ahead 50-46.
Simmons had nine points and eight rebounds in the half, and Irving topped the Celtics with 12 points.
The Sixers also tacked on the first five points of the second half to go up by nine, and they maintained the lead the rest of the third quarter. The Celtics did close the gap to 72-69 on a tip-in at the buzzer by Aron Baynes.
Boston assumed its first lead of the half at 82-80 on Horford's 3-pointer with 8:04 left. The score was tied on two more occasions before Horford's jump hook from the right baseline with 6:48 remaining put the Celtics ahead to stay at 86-84.
NOTES: Boston coach Brad Stevens said F Gordon Hayward, who underwent surgery on Wednesday, left the hospital. In his absence, Stevens said, there will be "significant tweaks" to the Boston offense -- that the Celtics will run more of it through the post than originally planned. ... Sixers coach Brett Brown said a decision has not yet been made as to whether C Joel Embiid will play Saturday night in Toronto. Embiid, who missed his first two seasons because of foot injuries, did not play the second game in back-to-back situations before he was lost to a knee injury last season. This year, Brown said, the medical staff will weigh the number of minutes Embiid plays, as well as how taxing those minutes were, before rendering a verdict "in consultation with Joel."
Hornets rally from 20 points down, beat Hawks
Friday, October 20 at 11:14 PM (EDT)
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Dwight Howard gives the Charlotte Hornets an element they have never had previously during coach Steve Clifford's five-year tenure -- a dominant presence in the paint.
Howard gave a glimpse of what kind of an impact he can have on Friday night as the Hornets roared past the Atlanta Hawks 109-91 in their home opener.
The 14-year veteran center, obtained from Atlanta during the offseason in a trade for Miles Plumlee and Marco Belinelli, had 20 points and 15 rebounds and was particularly effective in the stretch where the Hornets took control of the game.
Atlanta led by 20 points early in the second quarter, but the Hornets erased that with a 24-0 spurt in the third quarter and they eventually led by as many as 20 down the stretch.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said it would surely take time for the Hornets to learn to play with Howard, but he liked what he saw on Friday night. Howard was 8 of 12 from the field and 4 of 8 from the free-throw line.
"I'm hoping this is just the beginning," Clifford said of Howard. "I think first you have to figure out as a team what you have to do to play well, and it's obvious to me and it's obvious to them that we defend and rebound with physicality, and that leads to good offense. And that's what we got tonight from Dwight."
Howard gave credit to his teammates.
"I just tried to dominate in the paint," he said. "Anytime I got in the paint I tried to finish strong. My teammates found me in good spots. When we play like that, when we have fun and we play hard, we still play with intensity and we win. When we play uptight, when we're not having fun on the floor, it shows. When we're just out there hooping like we did in the second half, I don't think anybody can beat us."
Kemba Walker led the Hornets (1-1) with 26 points and nine assists on a night when he hit four 3-pointers and also got to the line 12 times, making 10. The Hornets also got 21 points off the bench from Frank Kaminsky and 15 points from Jeremy Lamb.
"We had a lot of guys play well," Clifford said. "But Dwight and Kemba really in the second half were outstanding, and Frank played really well too."
The Hawks (1-1) led 40-20 with 8:52 left in the second quarter, taking advantage of 15 first-half Charlotte turnovers. But the Hornets whittled the margin down to 56-49 at halftime, and then came the 24-0 run in the third quarter that turned a 69-60 deficit into an 84-69 lead.
Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer was philosophical about the Hornets' 24-0 run.
"We are going to have to look at film, but it was probably good defense on their part and we probably missed some open shots," he said. "On some plays our execution was good and probably on others we need to improve. They hit some tough shots and they hit some open ones. Sometimes it's a game of runs. It was a big run for them and kind of changed the game."
Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 25 points. Taurean Prince scored 15 and Dewayne Dedmon and Kent Bazemore scored 11 each. But Ersan Ilyasova went scoreless and Belinelli, who scored 20 off the bench in a season-opening win at Dallas on Wednesday, finished with just five points on 1-of-10 shooting.
The Hawks shot just 37.9 percent from the field and were 7 of 30 from 3-point range.
"It's frustrating, especially if you're up by (20) in the first half at one point in time," Prince said. "But things happen. The luxury about the NBA is we have 82 games and they're so close together so we have to have some type of amnesia and get onto the next game."
NOTES: The Hornets were short-handed, missing four regulars. C Cody Zeller (right knee bone bruise), F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (personal), G Michael Carter-Williams (knee soreness) and G Nic Batum (sprained left elbow) were all out, and Batum could miss another month or so. ... The Hawks were without C Miles Plumlee (strained right quad). ... Hornets C Dwight Howard recorded his 668th career double-double, which is tops in the NBA among active players. ... The Hawks opened their season with a 117-111 win at Dallas on Wednesday, behind 28 points from G Dennis Schroder. ... The Hornets opened their season with a 102-90 loss at Detroit. ... This was the first of four meetings between the Southeast Division rivals, but they won't meet again until late January. The Hornets won three of four between the teams last season. ... The Hornets will travel to Milwaukee on Monday. ... The Hawks will continue on a season-opening five-game road trip on Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn. They won't play their first home game until Oct. 27 against Denver.
Wizards blow lead, then rally to beat Pistons
Saturday, October 21 at 12:02 AM (EDT)
WASHINGTON -- Helped by an explosive offense, the Washington Wizards opened the season with back-to-back wins. John Wall's fear is they might go winless on their upcoming road trip if the defense doesn't tighten up.
Otto Porter scored 28 points, and Wall had 26 points, 10 assists and two blocks as the Wizards improved to 2-0 with a 115-111 win over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Bradley Beal finished with 25 points as the Wizards held on after letting a 15-point fourth-quarter lead slip away. Wall and Beal combined for 34 points in the second half, but scoring wasn't the issue.
The Pistons (1-1) sank 9 of 13 shots from the field (69.2 percent) in the fourth quarter.
"Defensively, the first two games we've been terrible, both units," Wall acknowledged. "We show glimpses when we're good, but if we don't pick it up defensively on the road, we won't win any games."
Washington defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 120-115 on Wednesday.
Reggie Jackson scored 21 points, Avery Bradley 18 and Tobias Harris 15 for the Pistons.
Detroit center Andre Drummond had nine points and 12 rebounds before fouling out with 9:15 remaining with his team trailing 98-83. The Pistons immediately rallied with a 14-0 run and eventually took the lead at 104-102.
Washington responded for a 111-106 lead and remained on top at 113-111. The 6-foot-4 Wall, who has a penchant for swatting shots, blocked Jackson's driving layup attempt with 14 seconds left.
"That's just me playing defense. I think I'm the best shot-blocking point guard in NBA history," Wall said with a grin. "I'm just trying to set records."
After several loose-ball situations that took time off the clock, Wall hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds remaining.
Washington finished 29 of 35 from the line. Detroit hit 15 of 20 and committed 17 turnovers.
"Turnovers and fouls, that was the game," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "If they're going to shoot that many more free throws than we are and we are going to turn the ball over that many times, it's going to be hard to win anywhere, but especially on the road."
Wall and Beal shot a combined 17 of 25 from the field and 15 of 18 on free throws.
"They're great players," Jackson said. "They're proven in this league. It makes it tough when you can't necessarily really play them. Feels like we weren't allowed to play basketball. Personally, I might be ashamed of myself if I wore stripes into the building tonight."
Washington trailed 65-58 at halftime deficit despite 20 points from Porter.
"I was very excited to talk to them at halftime. I was looking forward to that," Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said about the opportunity to address the porous defense. "We're not going to stop them from scoring every time, but we have to give ourselves the best chance. We do that with toughness."
Porter hit his only two 3-pointers in the third quarter and Wall scored 11 points as the Wizards outscored the Pistons 33-16 in the period for a 91-81 lead.
The Wizards opened last season with three consecutive losses and sat 2-8 after 10 games before rallying for a 49-win season.
Drummond was held below his season averages in three games against Washington last season, averaging 8.7 points and 9.7 rebounds. The big man surpassed both numbers in the first half with nine points and 10 rebounds -- six offensive -- but wasn't much help after halftime.
Porter became the second player to replace power forward Markieff Morris (hernia surgery) in as many games. Kelly Oubre Jr. (four points) started at the other forward spot.
Center Marcin Gortat scored 10 points and all nine of his rebounds in the second half. Washington dominated the glass after halftime 22-11 and finished with a 37-33 edge.
Pistons rookie Luke Kennard, the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, sank his first five shots from the field after not playing in Detroit's season opener. He finished with 11 points, and the Pistons' bench had 38 points.
The Pistons downed the Charlotte Hornets 102-90 in the regular-season opener behind 27 points and 10 rebounds from Harris.
Blazers get second road win by beating Pacers
Friday, October 20 at 10:43 PM (EDT)
INDIANAPOLIS -- When Portland guards C.J. McCollum, Damian Lillard and Evan Turner are on the same page, the Trail Blazers are a difficult team to beat.
That was the case Friday night in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where McCollum returned from a one-game suspension to lead all scorers with 28 points, assisted by 18 from Lillard and 17 from Turner in an easy 114-96 victory against the Indiana Pacers. The Blazers improved to 2-0 overall and 2-0 on the road to begin the season.
"C.J. just got it going," Portland coach Terry Stotts said. "The last shot he hit at the end of his 16-point third quarter was just ridiculous. Evan had a couple of really good post-ups. I thought he had a really good floor game. He was in a good groove, doing a little bit of everything tonight."
Collectively, McCollum, Lillard and Turner contributed 63 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists, making 26 of 47 field goal attempts (55.3 percent).
"It certainly helped to have C.J. back," Lillard said. "But the main thing is that we continued to defend. We put together a C.J. run there in the third quarter. He got going like we have seen him do pretty often."
Portland opened its season Wednesday night with a dominating 124-76 victory at Phoenix, then continued its solid play in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Al-Farouq Aminu added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who shot 48.4 percent (46 of 95).
Guard Victor Oladipo and reserve TJ Leaf led Indiana (1-1) with 17 points apiece.
Portland has won six of the past seven regular-season meetings against Indiana. The teams will play again on Jan. 18 in Portland.
The Pacers played without starting center Myles Turner, who has a concussion and a sore neck after contributing 21 points and 14 rebounds in Wednesday's opening-night 140-131 victory against Brooklyn. Turner also will miss Saturday's game at Miami. He will be in concussion protocol until he is cleared to play again.
"Obviously, we missed Myles Turner," Oladipo said. "He definitely helps us on both ends of the floor. Injuries happen, so it is next man up. I still think we could have played a little better. We missed some shots we normally make."
Portland led by 10 points at halftime and continued to apply the third-quarter pressure, taking a 79-65 lead with 2:45 remaining in the period. At that point, Indiana was 2 of 12 from 3-point range and 12 of 20 from the free throw line. At quarter's end, the Trail Blazers enjoyed an 91-73 advantage.
"We missed a lot of open shots," Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. "I thought we took some bad shots because we didn't have quite the same movement that we wanted. And when you miss 11 free throws, those are points you are leaving out there. We also had some open looks from the 3-point line that we normally knock down. Hopefully, we start to make those beginning Saturday night."
Through three periods, McCollum had 26 points, Turner had 15 and Lillard had 14, seven rebounds and six assists. Those three were 21 of 40 from the field after 36 minutes. Portland was shooting 52.2 percent (36 of 69) in the first three quarters.
The Trail Blazers led 62-52 at the half, outscoring Indiana 31-27 in the second quarter. Lillard, McCollum and Turner were a collective 15 of 26 in the first 24 minutes, combining for 37 points, led by Turner's 13 and 12 each from Lillard and McCollum.
In the first two quarters, Portland made 24 of 44 field goal tries (54.5 percent), including 5 of 11 from 3-point range and 9 of 11 from the free throw line.
Oladipo had 11 first-half points for the Pacers and Bojan Bogdanovic added 10. Indiana shot 50 percent in the first half (20 of 40).
Portland made 14 of 25 first-quarter field goal attempts (56 percent), including a combined 8 of 12 from Lillard and McCollum and led 31-25 through the first 12 minutes.
Indiana was 11 of 21 (52.4) in the first quarter but turned the ball over five times to one for Portland. The Pacers out-rebounded the Trail Blazers 12-7 in the opening period.
NOTES: Portland G Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame), F Noah Vonleh (Indiana) and F Caleb Swanigan (Purdue) all played college basketball in Indiana, as did Pacers' guard Victor Oladipo (Indiana) ... Trail Blazers' coach Terry Stotts, who played collegiately at Oklahoma, played high school basketball in Bloomington, Ind. ... In two games against the Pacers in 2016-2017, Portland G Damian Lillard averaged 30.5 points, four rebounds and 9.5 assists ... Portland leads the all-time series 53-34 ... Indiana G Glenn Robinson III continues to rehab his surgically repaired left ankle ... Portland F Noah Vonleh missed the game with a right shoulder injury.
Russell, Nets fend off Magic
Friday, October 20 at 11:35 PM (EDT)
NEW YORK -- On the agonizing flight from Indiana after realizing he suffered a season-ending knee injury, Jeremy Lin mentioned to Brooklyn Nets coach Kenny Atkinson that the team was "better-equipped" to handle it.
Watching D'Angelo Russell make plays in crunch time is likely what Lin meant.
Hours after Lin underwent knee surgery, Russell scored six of his 17 points down the stretch as Brooklyn withstood a career-high 41 points from Nikola Vucevic to beat the Orlando Magic 126-121 in its home opener Friday night.
Russell checked back in with 4:52 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Nets nursing a 110-106 lead. After he committed his eighth turnover, Orlando was within 110-108 on a hoop by Vucevic. But Russell then hit a pair of layups on consecutive possessions for a 117-110 lead with 2:24 remaining and added a 19-footer with 83 seconds left.
Russell's final clutch shot occurred after Evan Fournier made a 3-pointer to get Orlando to within 117-116. The Nets then survived a 3-pointer by Terrence Ross with 14 seconds left and a missed 3-pointer by Fournier with three seconds left.
The Nets sealed the win with two free throws by Trevor Booker with nine-tenths of a second left.
"That's just a talented player and he's going to have the ball in his hands at the end of the game," said Atkinson, who referred to Russell's crossover drive on rookie Jonathan Isaac to the rim as a "jitterbug" move. "He made a couple of spectacular plays to get to the rim."
Russell made 8 of 16 shots after getting 30 in his Brooklyn debut Wednesday in Indiana.
"It was just a reaction, honestly," Russell said of his crossover move. "I was just trying to make something happen."
Russell was among six players in double figures for the Nets, who shot 63 percent in the fourth quarter and 50 percent overall in improving to 5-1 in home openers since moving from New Jersey in 2012.
"It was tough," Booker said of Russell's plays down the stretch. "He said he got ice in his veins and he showed it tonight."
DeMarre Carroll also contributed 17 points and eight rebounds while Booker added 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. Fellow reserve Spencer Dinwiddie added 16 points. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson spent time defending Vucevic and contributed 15 while Joe Harris chipped in 10.
Allen Crabbe started for Lin, who played in 36 games last season when Russell was on the Los Angeles Lakers and the Nets lost 62 games.
Vucevic surpassed his previous career high of 37 and also hit a career-high six 3-pointers -- three more than his previous career best. He added 12 rebounds and hit 17 of 22 shots but it was not enough for Orlando, which lost despite hitting 18 3-pointers.
"I can't imagine him having a better game than he did tonight," Orlando coach Frank Vogel said of Vucevic. "His shot-making was ridiculous."
Fournier added 22 for Orlando, which played without Aaron Gordon (ankle) and lost Elfrid Payton (hamstring) for the second half.
Before Russell's clutch shots, the Nets held an eight-point lead with about eight minutes remaining on a nifty put-back by Carroll but Orlando took a 91-89 lead into the fourth on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by reserve Jonathan Simmons.
Orlando never led after Bismack Biyombo hit a free throw 3 1/2 minutes into the fourth despite hanging around the rest of the game.
"Our defense is what hurt us this game," Vucevic said. "We were able to score. We just never got stops."
NOTES: Brooklyn G Jeremy Lin underwent surgery Friday after rupturing the patellar tendon in his right knee Wednesday. Lin was visited by coach Kenny Atkinson, whom he has known since their time with the New York Knicks in 2012. "We were just in our comfort zone," Atkinson said. "We've known each other a long time. That's what makes this harder." ... Brooklyn GM Sean Marks said the team might use the disabled player exception to add a player. The deadline is Jan. 15. "We're looking at all kinds of options," Marks said. "That's one tool we have. It's about being strategic and systematic in our approach." ... F Aaron Gordon (sore left ankle) participated in Orlando's morning shoot-around. Gordon also tested the ankle by jumping rope before the game. ... Brooklyn rookie Jarett Allen (19 years, 182 days) is the second-youngest player to appear in a game in franchise history. The youngest was Derrick Favors, who was 19 years, 104 days on Oct. 27, 2010.