Cleveland Cavaliers were given a hint of how tough life will be without LeBron James as they were beaten 116-104 by Toronto Raptors in their NBA season-opener in Canada.
Having traded their star name to the Los Angeles Lakers after reaching four straight NBA finals, Thursday’s showdown illustrated why this season’s expectations are lower.
Kawhi Leonard stepped up to the plate on his debut for the Raptors, scoring 24 points to a secure a comfortable win over a team who had beaten them in 15 of their last 17 meetings.
Devin Booker scored 35 points, including a 19-point surge in the final six-and-a-half minutes, as the Phoenix Suns held off the Dallas Mavericks 121-100, while top draft pick Deandre Ayton added 18 points.
Charlotte Hornets almost pulled off a spectacular comeback against the Milwaukee Bucks, fighting back from a 20-point deficit in the fourth quarter to fall 113-112, Giannis Antetokounmpo top-scoring for the Bucks with 25.
Bojan Bogdanovic led with 19 points as the Indiana Pacers scored their biggest opening night victory in the NBA era with a 111-83 success against the Memphis Grizzlies.
LA Clippers’ 7ft 3ins Boban Marjanovic scored another of his trademark dunks but could not prevent his team falling 107-98 to Denver Nuggets, for whom Nikola Jokic starred with 21 points.
Tim Hardaway scored 31 to spark the New York Knicks to a franchise-record 49-point second quarter as they eased to a 126-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Donovan Mitchell’s 24 points saw Utah Jazz to a 123-117 win at Sacramento Kings, while DeMar DeRozan scored 28 on his debut for the San Antonio Spurs in their 112-108 win over Minnesota Timberwolves.
Detroit Pistons edged a 103-100 win over the Brooklyn Nets, Orlando Magic’s 7ft rookie Mohamed Bamba impressed in their 104-101 win over Miami Heat and New Orleans Pelicans beat the Houston Rockets 131-112.