Portland: LeBron James opened with two thunderous dunks and had 26 points and 12 rebounds in his first game with the Los Angeles Lakers, but the Portland Trail Blazers prevailed 128-119 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Damian Lillard had 28 points and Nik Stauskas came off the bench to score 24 for Portland, which won its 18th straight home opener to extend an NBA record.
It was the Blazers’ 16th straight victory over the Lakers.
The opening festivities were tempered by the death this week of Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. A “Rip City” baseball cap rested in Allen’s courtside seat with a single rose.
The enigmatic co-founder of Microsoft died on Monday in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65. There was moment of silence before the game and tributes to Allen throughout the night.
On the court, the focus was all on James. His monster dunks to start stunned the Moda Center crowd while Nike co-founder Phil Knight looked on from courtside seats.
Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid lead Sixers’ to victory
In Philadelphia, Ben Simmons had a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists and Joel Embiid had 30 points and 12 rebounds in Philadelphia’s victory over Chicago.
Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 30 points in their season opener.
The curious case of Markelle Fultz continued when one of the more scrutinized players in the NBA managed to steal the spotlight from his more accomplished teammate with simple jumpers.
Fultz had open looks early and 76ers fans exhorted him to “Shoot! Shoot!” each time he touched the ball as the second-year guard tries to overcome his aversion to jumpers.
He found the look he wanted 3 minutes into the second quarter. Fultz dribbled to the foul line and hit an uncontested pull-up jumper, the ball rattling around the rim four times before it plopped through the net for two points. Fans erupted in cheers as they gave him a standing ovation and chanted “Fultz! The Fultz! Fultz!” Fultz was 1 of 6 in 15 minutes in the first half and didn’t play again until late in the third and the Sixers leading by 88-68.
Miami Heat edge past Wizards
Kelly Olynyk’s putback of Dwyane Wade’s missed jumper produced the go-ahead basket with 0.2 seconds left, lifting Miami past Washington.
Josh Richardson led Miami with 28 points, Rodney McGruder added 20, and the Heat hit consecutive 3s late in the fourth quarter.
With Washington center Dwight Howard sidelined by a sore backside, the Wizards were led by old standby John Wall, who delivered 26 points and nine assists. He and fellow All-Star guard Bradley Beal, who scored 20 points, accounted for Washington’s last eight points.
But with a 112-111 lead, Wall missed a 26-foot pull-up jumper, giving Miami a chance. Wade’s shot with about 3 seconds left was off the mark, and Olynyk grabbed the rebound and his layup won it.