Kawhi's Clippers win battle of LA against LeBron & Lakers on opening night

By Sports Desk October 23, 2019

Kahwi Leonard led the Los Angeles Clippers past LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

In the battle of LA, Leonard enjoyed a winning debut as the Clippers beat the Lakers 112-102 on Tuesday.

In the early game, defending champions the Toronto Raptors outlasted the New Orleans Pelicans 130-122 after overtime.


Here are three takeaways from NBA opening night:

Toronto are no slouch

The departure of Leonard will be a popular topic of discussion surrounding the Raptors this year, but they showed Tuesday that they can still play at a high level. Although Toronto's leader, Kyle Lowry, struggled from the field against the Pelicans and made just four of his 15 shot attempts, his team-mates showed they made some improvements over the offseason.

Pascal Siakam let the game come to him, even fresh off his $130million extension. Last year's Most Improved Player tallied 34 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in an astounding performance that showed he can be all Toronto want him to be. He fouled out of the game before overtime but produced an all-around game few others can match.

Even more surprising was Fred VanVleet, who notched a career-high 34 points and seven assists on five made three pointers. The Raptors are so much more than Leonard and can be even better when Lowry is firing on all cylinders as well. Toronto might not win the Eastern Conference, but they will definitely be a competitive team and playoff contender.

Pelicans more loaded than we thought

New Orleans came at the Raptors hard and fast in this year's season opener and showed flashes of what they can be given time. The Pelicans acquired a plethora of young pieces over the offseason via trades, free agency, and the draft. Those assets came together nicely even though they have not been together long.

Brandon Ingram paced New Orleans with a team-high 22 points while Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Nicolo Melli, and Josh Hart all scored in double figures. The Pelicans' second unit featured some unexpected line-ups and struggled at various points, though, so the rotations could need some tweaking. However, competing with the team who won the NBA Finals last season on the road is no small feat, and that should not go unnoticed.

The Pelicans' promising game comes on the heels of news that superstar rookie Zion Williamson will be sidelined to start the campaign as he recovers from a meniscus procedure. The Western Conference is a different beast, but there is no telling what the ceiling could be for New Orleans.

The battle for Los Angeles will be really fun to watch

Neither the Lakers or Clippers were at full strength on opening night, but the energy at the Staples Center was something else. Even though the Clippers served as the home team, the stands were filled with Lakers fans who showered boos on Leonard. But the reigning NBA Finals MVP was unfazed as he led his team to victory.

Leonard torched the Lakers with 30 points, six rebounds, and five assists and had no Paul George with him.

The Lakers were missing Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo but did have their superstar duo James and Anthony Davis, who combined for 43 points, 19 rebounds, and 13 assists. Danny Green unexpectedly exploded for a team-high 28 points, but the Clippers' 60 bench points to 19 were a difference-maker.

Knowing that this was such a good game with key pieces missing for both sides should only make basketball fans more excited for later meetings.

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    LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers came out on top 114-112 against Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics in the NBA on Sunday.

    James nailed a fallaway jump shot with 30 seconds remaining as the Lakers prevailed, despite Tatum's 41 points at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

    "I had been setting him [Tatum] up all night with the back-down to the drop step to the baseline," James said. "I figured he would sit on it, thinking I would try it again, so I just went to my back-down, gave a little Dream Shake to the baseline and was able to open up the middle and get my fadeaway."

    Lakers superstar James finished with 29 points, nine assists and eight rebounds for the Western Conference leaders, who extended their winning streak to five games as Celtics great Bill Russell watched from the sideline.

    Anthony Davis posted 32 points and 13 rebounds, while the Celtics played without Kemba Walker (left knee soreness) for the second straight game.

    The Milwaukee Bucks did not play on Sunday but the NBA leaders still made history thanks to the Chicago Bulls.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks became the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff spot after the Chicago Bulls beat the Washington Wizards.

    The Bucks secured a postseason berth through 56 games on February 23, topping the Golden State Warriors' record – set on February 25 in 2017 after 58 appearances.


    Zion stars in San Francisco

    Zion Williamson flexed his muscles with 28 points and seven rebounds as the New Orleans Pelicans soared past the lowly Golden State Warriors 115-101. Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 23 points in the final quarter.

    A career-high 53 points from Bradley Beal were not enough for the Wizards, who went down 126-117 to the Bulls. Coby White's 33 points saw him join Michael Jordan as the only Bulls rookies with 30 or more points in successive games.

    Double-doubles from Serge Ibaka (15 points, 15 rebounds) and Kyle Lowry (16 points, 11 assists) inspired defending champions the Toronto Raptors to a 127-81 demolition of the Indiana Pacers.

    A 131-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs was memorable for the Oklahoma City Thunder. It was Oklahoma City's largest victory margin ever against the Spurs. Chris Paul (12 points, 10 assists), Steven Adams (21 points, 14 rebounds) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (22 points, 13 rebounds) all had double-doubles for the Thunder.


    Spurs struggle

    San Antonio had a night to forget away to the Thunder. The Spurs were just 36.9 per cent from the field, making just 38 of 103 shots. Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan both struggled. Aldridge was three of 10 from the field and he missed all five three-point attempts for eight points. Meanwhile, DeRozan was four of 12 for 11 points.


    Zion with the slam!

    The 2019 number one pick and Pelicans rookie provided another highlight against the Warriors.


    Sunday's results

    Los Angeles Lakers 114-112 Boston Celtics
    Denver Nuggets 128-116 Minnesota Timberwolves
    Toronto Raptors 127-81 Indiana Pacers
    Chicago Bulls 126-117 Washington Wizards
    Oklahoma City Thunder 131-103 San Antonio Spurs
    New Orleans Pelicans 115-101 Golden State Warriors
    Portland Trail Blazers 107-104 Detroit Pistons


    Hawks at 76ers

    The Philadelphia 76ers (35-22) are expected to be without injured All-Star Ben Simmons for Monday's visit of the Atlanta Hawks (17-41). Simmons hurt his back in the loss away to the NBA-leading Bucks. Awful on the road, the 76ers – currently fifth in the Eastern Conference – boast the best home record in the league at 26-2.

  • Los Angeles Lakers sign Markieff Morris Los Angeles Lakers sign Markieff Morris

    The Los Angeles Lakers have signed veteran forward Markieff Morris, the NBA franchise announced on Sunday.

    Western Conference leaders the Lakers brought in Morris after waiving injured center DeMarcus Cousins.

    Morris negotiated a buyout with the Detroit Pistons on Friday and joins the Lakers – who are led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis and looking to win a championship.

    The 30-year-old Morris, the twin brother of Los Angeles Clippers recruit Marcus, averaged 11 points and 1.6 assists in 44 appearances for the Pistons this season.

    In 623 career games with the Phoenix Suns, Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder and Detroit, Morris has averaged 11.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.7 assists.

    The Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 114-112 on Sunday to extend their winning streak to five games and improve to 43-12 atop the west.

  • Euroleague condemns 'cowardly, criminal attack' on taxi carrying referees Euroleague condemns 'cowardly, criminal attack' on taxi carrying referees

    Euroleague Basketball has strongly condemned a "cowardly, criminal attack" in Athens on a taxi carrying referees who took charge of the game between Panathinaikos and Barcelona.

    Three referees and a referee coach were being transported to their hotel following Friday's match when the window of their taxi was smashed by two people. 

    In a statement on Sunday, Euroleague warned it may consider moving future matches from Greece should another similar incident occur in the country.

    "Following the conclusion of the Panathinaikos OPAP Athens-FC Barcelona game in Round 25 of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague regular season in Athens, Greece, two individuals performed a cowardly, criminal attack, smashing a window of the taxi that was transporting the referees from OAKA to their hotel," read Euroleague's statement.

    "Fortunately, all three referees, the referee coach and the taxi driver are OK," read the statement. "After the attack, Euroleague Basketball communicated directly with the Hellenic Police, who guaranteed the safety and security of the referees until they departed from Greece."

    The statement continued: "Euroleague Basketball and all participating clubs condemn violent acts of any shape or form, and will continue to apply a zero-tolerance policy.

    "Euroleague Basketball will support the police investigation into the attack. Should the two individuals be identified, they will be banned for life from attending any Euroleague Basketball game/event, without prejudice to any additional legal proceedings.

    "Euroleague Basketball will seek the cooperation of the clubs and the local authorities to prevent any such incidents in the future.

    "Whilst the attack is unprecedented in the 20-season history of Euroleague Basketball, should a similar incident occur again within the territory of Greece, this would signify that a safe and secure environment for the visiting teams, referees and all other accredited personnel cannot be guaranteed.

    "Therefore, Euroleague Basketball will immediately evaluate relocating all further EuroLeague, EuroCup and U18 Tournament games outside of Greece."

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