LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Paul scored his 20,000th career point on the way to 23 points and 14 assists, and Devin Booker added 14 points in the Phoenix Suns’ 115-105 victory over the winless Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Paul became the first player in NBA history to pair 20,000 points with 10,000 career assists while the defending Western Conference champions carved up the Lakers, who trailed by 32 points in the third quarter.
LeBron James scored 25 points and Russell Westbrook had 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists as Los Angeles dropped to 0-2 so far in its reboot season despite playing decently in the first and final quarters.
During the middle quarters, the Lakers showed more fight off the court than on it while getting outscored by 30 points. There was a confrontation between Dwight Howard and Anthony Davis, and a later confrontation between Rajon Rondo and a heckling fan.
Davis had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Carmelo Anthony added 16 points in a nominal rematch of the first-round playoff series last summer won by the Suns on their way to the NBA Finals. While the Suns kept their winning core together, the Lakers have 12 new players — and a very long way to go, even though they trimmed their massive deficit to nine points in a strong fourth quarter.
The Lakers were incapable of defending Paul or running any effective offensive plays for long stretches, but they lit up social media when Davis and Howard had a confrontation in the bench area during a first-half timeout. The veteran big men’s teammates separated them right after Howard fell back to the bench from a physical exchange.
A fan was then ejected from a courtside seat in the third quarter after he exchanged words with Rondo. The veteran point guard pointed out the fan to security, and the fan slapped away Rondo’s hand before security led him out.
NETS 114, 76ERS 109
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kevin Durant had 29 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assists, James Harden scored 20 points and Brooklyn closed with a 16-1 run to beat Philadelphia as each team played without a much-discussed star guard.
The Nets were missing Kyrie Irving, who isn’t with the team due to his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Ben Simmons sat out the home opener for personal reasons and the Sixers do not know when the three-time All-Star will return.
They could have used Simmons’ defense to shut down the Nets late.
The 76ers tossed up airballs on consecutive possessions early in Brooklyn’s run. The Nets had never led or tied until LaMarcus Aldridge’s dunk with 48 seconds left made it 108-108. He sank the free throw for the one-point lead.
Durant made two free throws to seal Brooklyn’s comeback from 14 points down.
Philadelphia's Joel Embiid scored 19 points on a sore right knee suffered against New Orleans in the opener. Tobias Harris and Seth Curry each scored 23 points for the 76ers.
Simmons has not played since his offseason trade demand. He met with the Sixers before the morning shootaround. Coach Doc Rivers said it was a “productive day” and hoped it was a start toward bringing Simmons back into the fold.
KNICKS 121, MAGIC 96
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Julius Randle had 21 points and 10 rebounds and New York improved to 2-0 for the first time since the 2012-13 season, beating Orlando.
Evan Fournier added 18 points for the Knicks. They opened with a double-overtime victory over Boston at home Wednesday night.
New York had it easier in Orlando’s home opener. The Knicks made a franchise-record 24 3-pointers against the rebuilding Magic (0-2), who fell behind by 31 points in the second quarter and were hardly competitive. New York’s biggest lead was 34 points.
Rookie Franz Wagner led the Magic with 16 points.
RAPTORS 115, CELTICS 83
BOSTON (AP) — Scottie Barnes had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Gary Trent Jr. scored 12 of his 20 points in the third quarter and Toronto spoiled Boston's home opener.
Precious Achiuwa had 15 points and 15 rebounds, and Fred VanVleet had 11 points and nine assists for Toronto, which lost its opener to Washington.
In new Boston coach Ime Udoka’s home debut, Jayson Tatum scored 18 points and Al Horford returned for a second stint with the Celtics to add 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jaylen Brown, who scored a career-high 46 points in a season-opening, double-overtime loss to New York on Wednesday night, had nine points on 3-for-13 shooting.
WIZARDS 135, PACERS 134, OT
WASHINGTON (AP) — Davis Bertans made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 34.4 seconds left in overtime, and Washington overcame Bradley Beal's absence to beat Indiana.
With Beal out because of hip problems, Spencer Dinwiddie scored 34 points in his home debut for the Wizards, including a 3-pointer to tie it with 33.6 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Kyle Kuzma had 26 points for Washington.
Myles Turner scored a career-high 40 points for the Pacers. Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis added 28 apiece.
NUGGETS 102, SPURS 96
DENVER (AP) — Nikola Jokic had 28 points and 16 rebounds and overcame six turnovers to lead Denver past San Antonio.
Jokic followed up his 27-point, 13-rebound effort in Phoenix on Wednesday with another strong game. He added seven assists and three steals for Denver.
Keldon Johnson led the Spurs with 27 points, two shy of his career high, and Derrick White had 16 points.
HORNETS 123, CAVALIERS 112
CLEVELAND (AP) — Miles Bridges scored 30 points, Kelly Oubre Jr. added 25 and Charlotte took advantage of Cleveland’s sloppiness to open the fourth quarter.
The Hornets only led by one entering the final 12 minutes before outscoring the Cavs 19-2 in the first 3:27, when Cleveland turned the ball over seven times. Gordon Hayward made two 3-pointes in the decisive run as Charlotte won its second straight to open the season.
Hayward finished with 18 points and LaMelo Ball had 17 for the Hornets. Collin Sexton scored 33 points for Cleveland.
ROCKETS 124, THUNDER 91
HOUSTON (AP) — Christian Wood had 31 points and 14 rebounds and Houston beat Oklahoma City in the Rockets’ home opener.
Oklahoma City had few answers for Wood, who went 13 for 19 from the field, including 4 of 6 from the 3-point line. Fourth in Most Improved Player voting last season, he also blocked four shots and had a steal.
Kevin Porter Jr. had 18 points and nine assists, and Eric Gordon scored 22 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mike Muscala led Oklahoma City with 13 points apiece.
JAZZ 1110, KINGS 101
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 27 points, Rudy Gobert had 17 points and 20 rebounds and Utah beat Sacramento.
Mike Conley added 17 points for the Jazz.
Harrison Barnes led Sacramento with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Buddy Hield scored 24 points and went 6 of 15 from 3-point range, becoming the Kings’ franchise leader in 3s.
BULLS 128, PELICANS 112
CHICAGO (AP) — Zach LaVine scored 32 points, DeMar DeRozan added 26 and Chicago beat New Orleans in its home opener.
Chicago’s Lonzo Ball added a triple-double against his former team with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Brandon Ingram scored 26 for New Orleans.
The Associated Press