Houston's new acquisition, Russel Westbrook, had his debut well and truly trampled on as the Bucks brought their preseason domination to star-studded opening night.
Although commendable, Westbrook's 24 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists failed to make much impact in a season that has already welcomed much more impressive stats.
2018 MVP James Harden put up 19 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds for the Rockets, whilst the Bucks set-up an exaggerated defensive structure to combat his historical scoring output. A heavier presence to the back left of the point guard prevents him from penetrating the paint to go left. The scheme seemed successful, throwing Harden off his game multiple times as he racked up offensive fouls.
Ersan Ilyasova, the NBA veteran, gave Milwaukee its first lead at 91-90 with 8:34 on the clock, adding vital points to the scoreboard along with teammate Wesley Matthews, who added 14 points, shooting at 50% from the field.
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Losing their power forward to five fouls after his spectacular performance tipped them into the lead, the Bucks didn't collapse. With the final five minutes draining away and the reigning MVP watching from the Bench, Milwaukee put in a collective effort to shut down Houston on their own floor.
Outscoring the Rockets 39-24 in the fourth quarter, Antetokounmpo finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in a destructive 28 minutes of game time.
Hawks 117, Pistons 100
After opening night saw the Pistons take a win on the road against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, the inconsistency of last season returned with a home-loss against Atlanta yesterday.
Standout stars for the Hawks included second-year star Trae Young, who dominated with 38 points and nine assists. The 21-year-old point guard was eager to play Thursday, shooting a deep three off the Piston's half-court logo in the first quarter. Back-to-back dunks by Jabari Parker, complemented by a further two free throws, kept the Pistons on the chase and gave him 18 points in total.
Derrick Rose led the Pistons with 27 points and three assists off the bench but, whilst Blake Griffin remained on the bench nursing a hamstring and knee injury, it wasn't enough to replicate Wednesday night's reign. Andre Drummond took one step backwards following his 32 points and 23 rebounds in Detroit's season opener, only racking up 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Despite an explosive fourth quarter which saw the Pistons' slice the Hawks' 14-point lead down to six, Atlanta was quick to exercise their power, putting up seven more points before the final buzzer.
LA Clippers 141, Golden State Warriors 122
The two California teams had no issue breaking the 100 point barrier last night at Golden State's new Chase Center, but it was the opposition's Kawhi Leonard who left the home team haunted after a second fiery performance this week.
Arguably the leagues most capable player, Leonard shot 9 for 17, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds and nine assists in just 21 minutes on court. History repeated itself as Kawhi dominated Golden State on their opening night much as he did their farewell game four months ago at the Oracle Arena.
Lou Williams added to the Warriors' misery with 22 points and eight assists as Montrezl Harrell contributed 18 points (8-of-9), six rebounds, and three assists. Dropping 46 points in the third quarter, the Clippers crushed the opposition, leading by as many as 31 with 62% in shooting from the field. Kawhi and co. comfortably headed into the fourth with a 24 point lead.
With Klay Thompson reportedly out for the season, it was left to D'Angelo Russel and Steph Curry to lead the Warriors, and they did, to an extent. Curry dropped 24 points, adding four rebounds and four assists, but his range was clearly affected, shooting just 2-of-11 from the three, and even turning the ball over eight times.
Russel's debut for the Warriors showed promise in the first quarter as he went on a 10-0 run to even the scoreboard, but as the time diminished so did the point guard's memorability.
With all teams in the NBA fearing Kawhi's wrath, time will tell if the Clippers can hold onto their domination.News Now - Sport News