SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — James Harden had 27 points and nine assists, and the Houston Rockets made it a perfect two-game road trip to start the season despite playing this one without Chris Paul, beating the Sacramento Kings 105-100 on Wednesday night.
While he didn’t shoot especially well, Harden hit a trio of dagger 3-pointers with 8:13, 6:00 and 5:13 left — the second of which put Houston ahead 89-79. He also had a key left-handed layup late and finished 8 for 21 and 4 of 14 from 3-point range.
Sacramento forced the Rockets into a shot-clock violation and the Kings got the ball back with just less than a minute remaining and down 96-92. Willie Cauley-Stein made one of two free throws with 41 seconds left and Harden found Clint Capela for an alley-oop dunk moments later.
After the Kings stole the inbounds pass from Eric Gordon with 25 seconds left and down 98-95, it was initially ruled Sacramento ball but the play went to replay review and a foul was issued to George Hill instead. Gordon converted two free throws.
Capela had 22 points and matched his career high with 17 rebounds. Paul sat out with a bruised left knee that limited him during Houston’s stunning comeback 122-121 win at Golden State on Tuesday after the Warriors held their championship ring ceremony.
Gordon started for Paul and scored 25 points.
Buddy Hield scored 10 of his 19 points in the third quarter for Sacramento.
TRAIL BLAZERS 124, SUNS 76
PHOENIX (AP) — Damian Lillard scored 27 points and Portland opened the season by handing Phoenix the most one-sided loss in the franchise’s 49-year history.
Pat Connaughton added a career-high 24 points, making 4 of 6 3-pointers. The Trail Blazers outshot, outrebounded and outhustled the Suns from the opening tip.
The 48-point rout exceeded Phoenix’s previous record, a 44-point loss to Seattle (151-107) on April 2, 1988.
The Blazers dominated even though they were without one of their best players, guard C.J. McCollum, who was suspended one game for leaving the bench area during a tussle involving Phoenix’s Alex Len and Caleb Swanigan in a preseason game a week ago.
Portland led 60-35 at the half and outscored the Suns 64-41 in the second. The Blazers led by as many as 58, for a time flirting with the most one-sided game in NBA history, a 68-point blowout of the Miami Heat by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 17, 1991.
The Suns shot 31.5 percent to Portland’s 49 percent, made 7 of 27 3-pointers to the Blazers’ 14 of 24 and were outrebounded 57-33.
Eric Bledsoe scored 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting for Phoenix.
BUCKS 108, CELTICS 100
BOSTON (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, and the Milwaukee Bucks opened their season with a victory over Boston to spoil the homecoming of a Celtics team coming off a late and emotional season opener.
One night after a gruesome broken ankle just six minutes into the season cost Boston top free agent Gordon Hayward — perhaps for the entire season — the Celtics fell to 0-2 by giving up an 11-1 run that left Milwaukee with a 97-90 lead and under three minutes to play.
Antetokounmpo added 13 rebounds, Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points and Khris Middleton had 15 points and nine rebounds. Matthew Dellavedova scored 15 points, hitting a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left after the Celtics cut the lead to two points.
Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on 7-for-25 shooting in his Boston debut.
SPURS 107, TIMBERWOLVES 99
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and San Antonio held o beat Minnesota while opening the season without leading scorer Kawhi Leonard.
The Spurs were without Leonard and Tony Parker, but had enough to hold off the revamped Timberwolves.
Minnesota bolstered its young lineup with the addition of veterans Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague. The quartet helped the Wolves rally from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but the Timberwolves only managed two field goals after taking a 92-91 lead with 5:02 remaining.
Butler finished with 12 points and Crawford had 10. Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 26 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 18.
Aldridge had one of his most complete games with the Spurs, two days after signing a three-year, $72 million extension. He shot 9 for 21 from the field and had four assists.
PISTONS 102, HORNETS 90
DETROIT (AP) — Tobias Harris scored 17 of his 27 points in the first quarter, helping Detroit celebrate its return downtown with the victory over Charlotte.
The Pistons and Hornets opened the season in Little Caesars Arena, a new facility that brought them back to the city for the first time in nearly four decades. Eminem made a surprise appearance, grabbing the microphone to fire up the crowd just before tipoff. Kid Rock, another Motor City musical artist, sat in a baseline seat near Detroit’s bench.
Reserve Langston Galloway scored 16 points, Avery Bradley had 15, and Henry Ellenson added 13 points for Detroit. Reggie Jackson had 13 points and eight assists.
Dwight Howard had 10 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks in his debut with the Hornets. Kemba Walker led Charlotte with 24 points.
WIZARDS 120, 76ERS 115.
WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall scored 28 points, Bradley Beal rebounded from a rough start to add 25 and Washington beat Philadelphia to spoil the NBA debuts of top picks Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz.
The Sixers cut their deficit to two in the final minute. A pair of Philadelphia turnovers and a 3-point miss by J.J. Redick allowed the Wizards to hold on.
Wall shot 10 of 28 from the floor and had eight assists. Beal, who started 1 of 5 with a dunk, was 12 of 16 from the free throw line.
Simmons, the 2016 No. 1 pick who missed all last season with a foot injury, had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 pick, came off the bench to score 10 points. Sixers forward Robert Covington had 29 points. He was 7 of 11 from 3-point range.
PACERS 140, NETS 131
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Victor Oladipo scored 22 points in his Indiana debut, Darren Collison added 21 points and 11 assists in his return to Indianapolis, and the Pacers held off Brooklyn.
The Pacers, in their first game since trading All-Star Paul George, had their highest point total since a 144-point game against Denver on Nov. 9, 2010. Myles Turner had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Thaddeus Young added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
D’Angelo Russell scored 30 points in his Nets debut but backcourt mate Jeremy Lin limped to the locker room with an injury midway through the fourth quarter.
HAWKS 117, MAVERICKS 111
DALLAS (AP) — Dennis Schroder scored 28 points in his first game as the front man for Atlanta and the rebuilding Hawks spoiled rookie Dennis Smith Jr.’s solid Dallas debut.
Marco Belinelli, a familiar face for the Mavericks as a former rival with San Antonio, added 20 points and was 4 of 6 from 3-point range for the Hawks in their first game after letting Paul Millsap leave in free agency and dumping Dwight Howard.
Smith scored his first NBA points on an alley-oop dunk to open the Dallas scoring and finished with 16 points and a game-high 10 assists. Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting and the 38-year-old German joined Kobe Bryant (Lakers) as the only players to reach 20 seasons with the same franchise.
MAGIC 116, HEAT 109
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Evan Fournier scored 23 points, Nikola Vucevic had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Orlando held off Miami.
Fournier stalled the Heat’s rally by scoring seven points in the final 2:27, including a driving basket with 30 seconds left. The Heat trailed by 17 early in the fourth quarter, but cut the deficit to two with 2:39 to play.
Hassan Whiteside keyed the Heat’s comeback and finished with 26 points and 22 rebounds. Goran Dragic had 17 points and six assists.
GRIZZLIES 103, PELICANS 91
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Conley scored 27 points, rookie Dillon Brooks added 19 and Memphis beat New Orleans.
Marc Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 3:05 left. Memphis won its opener for the second straight year, a first in franchise history.
Anthony Davis had 33 points and 18 rebounds, and DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans.
JAZZ 106, NUGGETS 96
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 10 rebounds in Utah’s victory over Denver.
The new-look Jazz — without Gordon Hayward and George Hill — trailed most of the night before Alec Burks took over with a spectacular fourth quarter.
Burks scored 12 points during a 25-4 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
Derrick Favors added 14 and Ricky Rubio had 10 assists in his first game with the Jazz. Will Barton led the Nuggets with 23 points, and Paul Millsap added 19.
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