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Saturday, October 26, 2019
HORNETS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
One of these clubs is going to go to bed Friday night with a 2-0 record. The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming off a roller-coaster 127-126 overtime win against the host Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. Karl-Anthony Towns quickly reminded everyone how dominant he can be in the paint as he posted a double-double with 36 points and 14 rebounds in 38-plus minutes. Towns could enjoy another feast against the Hornets, who rallied for a 126-125 win over the Chicago Bulls during their home opener. Charlotte big man Cody Zeller lacks Towns’ bulk and might need help on defense. That is not meant as a serious knock on Zeller, who also posted a double-double in his first game with 15 points and 12 boards. P.J. Washington added a team-high 27 points for Charlotte while Deveonte’ Graham poured in 23. Minnesota wants to see better shooting from Andrew Wiggins, who shot 10-for-27 two nights ago and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague will line up across from Terry Rozier, who is in his first season as Charlotte’s point guard after spending his first four years with the Boston Celtics.
CELTICS VS RAPTORS
Venue: TD Garden | Start: 10:00am AEDT
Granted, it’s way too early for desperation, but the Boston Celtics would like very much to avoid starting the season with an 0-2 record. That increases the pressure on Boston for Friday’s home opener against Toronto, which is feeling good after an overtime win against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday. Boston is coming off a 107-93 loss against the Philadelphia 76ers in which it was outscored in the second, third and fourth quarters. Kemba Walker is hoping for a significant improvement in his second game with Boston after he managed to score only 12 points on 4-for-18 shooting in his team debut. Rookie Carsen Edwards out of Purdue also failed to find his rhythm, connecting on 1 of 5 attempts from the field for three points and one rebound in 11:25 of playing time. The Celtics could benefit from another reliable performance from Gordon Hayward (25 points, five rebounds) and Jayson Tatum (21 points, 10 rebounds), both of whom were solid in their season debut. Toronto lost Kawhi Leonard to free agency but still boasts a good starting lineup that includes Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Marc Gasol. Serge Ibaka came off the bench in game one and had 13 points in 26 minutes.
NETS VS KNICKS
Venue: Barclays Center | Start: 10:30am AEDT
The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets each will go for their first win of the season when they meet up at Barclays Center on Friday night. The Knicks lost by nine points to the host San Antonio Spurs in their season opener, but they saw plenty to like about rookie RJ Barrett. The 19-year-old out of Duke finished his NBA debut with 21 points on 9-for-13 shooting. He added five rebounds, two assists and two steals for good measure. But now Brooklyn has a little bit of tape on Barrett and will try to slow him down in his second game. The Nets are coming off a 127-126 overtime loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves despite a whopping 50 points from Kyrie Irving in his team debut. Irving shot 17-for-33 from the field and 7-for-14 from beyond the arc — not to mention shooting 9-for-10 from the free-throw line — to account for nearly 40 percent of his team’s scoring. Brooklyn needs to play better defense in the paint after allowing Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns to explode for 36 points and 14 rebounds on Wednesday night. The Knicks have Julius Randle, who is not at Towns’ level but has the ability to put up good numbers if he is left unchecked. Randle is coming off a 21-point performance and will try to stay hot.
THUNDER VS WIZARDS
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
he Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder showed glimpses during their respective season openers Wednesday that both teams have something to work with. Both went down to road defeats, but each extended their opponents to the end. The Wizards fell 108-100 in a game where Bradley Beal was ejected with just over a minute to go when he and Luka Doncic received double technical after some physical play, with Beal getting a second for objecting to the first. “That was just basketball, trying to frustrate him. He was kicking our butt. Had to do something,” said Beal who signed a $72 million extension before the season began. Beal scored 19 points but was just 1-for-11 from 3-point range while rookie Rui Hachimura scored 14 in his NBA debut. The Thunder’s new look of Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at guard and Danilo Gallinari at forward nearly pulled out a victory, but the Utah Jazz rallied late for a 100-95 victory. The new Thunder trio combined for 69 points, with Gilgeous-Alexander finishing with a career-best 26. Gilgeous-Alexander made it to the playoffs with the Clippers last season and doesn’t see why the same can’t happen with the Thunder this season. “We’re just worried about ourselves and worried about getting better every day, and I think if we do so, everything else will take care of itself,” he said.
PELICANS VS MAVERICKS
Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
A motivated and healthy Kristaps Porzingis showed off his new fit-and-trim look in the Dallas Mavericks’ opening 108-100 win over the Washington Wizards. Luke Doncic had 34 points and nine boards in the victory and Dallas contained Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal. The New Orleans Pelicans began the season without No. 1 pick Zion Williamson (knee) and have lost two in a row in the series by a combined six points. An offseason rebuild brought forward Brandon Ingram and point guard Lonzo Ball to the Bayou. Ingram is filling it at forward with Williamson out and put up 22 points, five boards and five assists in the opening night loss to the Toronto Raptors.
GRIZZLIES VS BULLS
Venue: FedExForum | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Chicago Bulls and the host Memphis Grizzlies will try to bounce back from season-opening losses when they tip off Friday night. Chicago blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lost 126-125 against the Charlotte Hornets. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies led by a point entering the fourth quarter only to be outscored 37-17 in the final 12 minutes against the Miami Heat. The next game offers fans another glimpse of electrifying guard Ja Morant, whom the Grizzlies selected No. 2 overall in this year’s draft. Morant scored 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting in his debut but focused his postgame comments on the importance of correcting his mistakes. The Bulls debuted rookie guard Coby White, the No. 7 overall pick, and he scored 17 points to tie with Thaddeus Young for second on the team. White will try to take another step forward against Memphis, which already is showing signs of a leaky defense. Lauri Markkanen posted tremendous numbers in the season opener (35 points, 17 rebounds) and will look to maintain his momentum against the Grizzlies, who are forecast by many to finish near the bottom of the standings.
NUGGETS VS SUNS
Venue: Pepsi Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
After winning their season opener, the Phoenix Suns will not have to wait long to see if their continued growth is sustainable at the higher levels of the NBA. Fresh off a convincing 124-98 victory over the Kings on Wednesday, the Suns travel to Denver to meet the team that finished second in the Western Conference last season. The Suns’ young dynamic duo of Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker combined for 40 points in the victory with new point guard Ricky Rubio dishing out 11 assists. It is promising stuff from a team that won just 19 games last season and finished dead last in the Western Conference. “We have a lot of potential. Just one game. We have to show it every night,” Rubio said afterward. Now comes a matchup against a Nuggets team that earned a 108-100 victory over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. Denver center Nikola Jokic delivered as expected, despite early foul trouble, scoring 20 points with 13 rebounds. He had 16 of those points in the fourth quarter. “Nikola in the fourth quarter was phenomenal, showed everybody why he’s an MVP-caliber player,” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told reporters afterward. The Nuggets made 18 3-pointers shooting 56.3 percent from beyond the arc.
KINGS VS TRAIL BLAZERS
Venue: Golden 1 Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Portland Trail Blazers put together three solid quarters in their 2019-20 debut Wednesday and will look to make it the full four when they gravel to Sacramento to visit the Kings on Friday. There was no shame for the Trail Blazers in losing to the Nuggets, who finished as the second-best team in the Western Conference last season. But it was not how they envisioned the opening to the 50th season in franchise history. Portland guard Damian Lillard went for 32 points in a 108-100 defeat. Hassan Whiteside scored 16 points and grabbed 19 rebounds in his Trail Blazers debut. Whiteside, who was drafted by the Kings in 2010 but played in just 19 games with them over two seasons, grabbed 43 rebounds in two games against Sacramento last season. The Kings will enter wounded from a 124-95 throttling by a Suns team that won just 19 games last season, worst in the Western Conference. Buddy Hield scored 28 points, but the Sacramento bench was just 9 of 31 from the field, with Bogdan Bogdanovic going 1 of 10 with two points. De’Aaron Fox scored just eight points for the Kings with five assists in 27 minutes of his season debut.
LAKERS VS JAZZ
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 1:30pm AEDT
The Utah Jazz will head into a matchup at Los Angeles against the Lakers satisfied to have earned a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in their season opener Wednesday and knowing it should have been more convincing. The Lakers know all about the need to be more convincing after falling 112-102 against the Clippers on Tuesday. A Lakers matchup against the Jazz represents another test against one of the top teams in the West. The Lakers won’t exactly be allowed to ease into the team’s new partnership of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who combined for 43 points and 19 rebounds in their defeat. “There were times when we were great. And, there were times where we could be a lot better,” James said of Tuesday’s game. The Jazz showed a cohesive offense during the preseason, then struggled for points against the Thunder. But Donovan Mitchell saved the day with a huge fourth quarter and 32-point night as Utah overcame an eight-point final-quarter deficit. Mike Conley struggled in his Jazz debut missing his first 12 shots and going 1 of 16 from the field. “Most of us had a rough night. But Donovan really came through in the end … offensively, defensively. We just stepped it up,” Conley said.