This morning, it is Karl-Anthony Towns commanding the spotlight as the face of the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-126 OT victory, racking up 36 points and 14 rebounds, with a career-high seven three-pointers sweetening the deal.
The season opener for both teams was not short of achievements, but Irving’s 50 point Nets’ debut was still not enough to re-write history as last night marked the seventh straight season-opening loss for Brooklyn.
The six-time Allstar had victory in his reach but stumbled into a forced shot that ricocheted of the rim as the final seconds melted away.
Andrew Wiggins stepped up for Minnesota dropping 21 points, including the OT winner, and eight rebounds in 36 minutes of game time. The 24-year-old didn’t give his most efficient performance, sticking within his 20+ game point average, but he came through when the clock ran low and is set to be a secondary option in Timberwolves offence this season behind Towns.
Nuggets 108, Trail Blazers 100
Portland’s NBA-record streak of 18 consecutive home-opening victories came crashing down at the hands of Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. The seven-foot centre ripped through Portland’s defence, with 20 points, 16 of which he put up in the fourth, seven rebounds and two assists. This double-double destruction occurred under foul trouble in just 24 minutes of game time.
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Jokic’s pick-and-roll partner, Jamal Murray, had been plagued by poor shooting until the final quarter when the pair cooked up 23 points in 12 minutes.
Down nine points by the third quarter, the Trail Blazers chipped away at the point gap with their own stars of the night. Traded to Portland from the Clippers this summer, Hassan Whiteside made his debut, dominating offensively and controlling the defence with 16 points and 19 rebounds. Guard, Damian Lillard flexed his power both at the range and under the hoop, clinching a short-lived third-quarter 74-73 victory. The Allstar dropped 32 points, four rebounds and eight assists in 38 minutes on court.
Hornets 126, Bulls 125
The Chicago Bulls went into last night’s game against the Charlotte Hornets with an assured win over one of the weakest teams in the NBA. However, a late-game run by Hornets’ Dwayne Bacon saw a record-setting performance sink 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
Hornets’ new acquisition, P.J. Washington also brought his game, splashing 27 points, seven of which were threes, in his NBA debut, enabling Charlotte to slip past visiting Chicago to take the win.
Bull’s Lauri Markkanen bags a big double-double scoring 35 points and adding 17 rebounds, two assists and a steal in 34 minutes. But the Bulls’ meltdown came late in the game as their offence came unglued with no performance able to pull back the damage done.
76ers 107, Celtics 93
The Philadelphia 76ers started their regular season with a big home victory last night against their Eastern Conference rivals the Boston Celtics. The game wasn’t without missed opportunities for Philadelphia with 63 fouls combined, 41 missed 3-pointers and 24 missed free throws, but their dogged defence took its toll on the opposition who struggled to break 100 points.
76ers point guard, Ben Simmons, came through as the evening’s showstopper with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as teammates Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid both clinching double-doubles, with 15 points, 15 rebounds and 15 points, 13 rebounds respectively.
Gordon Hayward led Boston with 25 points while Jayson Tatum kept vital buckets ticking over with 21 points in 37 minutes. However, Kemba Walker appeared of his game in his Celtics debut with 12 points, shooting 4-for-18 from the field.
Pistons 119, Pacers 110
The Pistons vs Pacers opener got off to a powerful start as Detroit’s Andre Drummond dominated over Indiana scoring 32 points and snatching 23 rebounds out of the oppositions hands. He delivered for the NBA with its first 30-point, 20-rebound performance in a season opener since Charles Barkley in 1992.
Indiana’s, frontcourt duo, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner led the Pacers with 27 and 25 points, respectively. T.J. Warren was taken straight to the locker room following a hard offensive foul in the fourth only finishing with 10 points.
Also making their regular season debuts last night:
Heat 120, Grizzlies 101
Jimmy Butler missed his Heat debut as rookies Kendrick Nunn and Chris Silva stole the show instead. Nunn scored 24 points in his NBA debut whilst power forward, Silva, put up 8 points with 6 rebounds in only 11 minutes of game time.
Mavericks 108, Wizards 100
Luka Doncic dazzled for Dallas, firing off 34 points and living up to his title as reigning NBA Rookie of the Year. Doncic took control from the start making 12-of-19 field goals, including 4-of-9 from three-point range. He also added nine rebounds two steals and three assists and shot 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Magic 94, Cavaliers 85
Spurs 120, Knicks 111
Jazz 100, Thunder 95
Suns 124, Kings 95