James Harden scored 36 points, and Chris Paul added 28 points with 10 assists as the Houston Rockets spoiled LeBron James’ home opener with the Los Angeles Lakers by earning a high-intensity 124-115 victory Saturday night.
Three players were ejected with 4:13 remaining after an on-court altercation that started after the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram committed a hard foul on Harden. After the whistle, Paul and the Lakers’ Rajon Rondo threw punches at each other, with Ingram also joining the fray. Paul, Rondo and Ingram all were ejected.
James scored 24 points on his new home floor, adding five rebounds and five assists. James, who led the Cleveland Cavaliers to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances, signed a four-year, $154 million deal with the Lakers in the offseason.
The Rockets led 109-108 at the time of the on-court confrontation and put the game away afterward, getting a key 3-pointer from PJ Tucker with 2:31 remaining for a 117-112 lead. Harden added a 3-pointer of his own with 1:12 remaining to give Houston a 120-113 lead.
Nuggets 119, Suns 91
Nikola Jokic scored 11 of his game-high 35 points in an early runaway, helping host Denver blow out Phoenix in a battle of teams that had won their NBA openers.
Jokic hit all 11 of his shots and completed his 17th career triple-double with game highs of 12 rebounds and 11 assists for the Nuggets, who were making their home debut after winning 107-98 in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday.
Devin Booker had 25 points for the Suns, who had opened at home with an impressive 121-100 thumping of the Dallas on Wednesday.
Trail Blazers 121, Spurs 108
Damian Lillard put on a spectacular offensive display, and host Portland collected 75 points in the middle two quarters in beating San Antonio.
Lillard scored 29 points and dished out nine assists with no turnovers, sinking 9 of 15 shots from the field, 3 of 6 from 3-point range and 8 of 8 from the free-throw line in just 30 minutes. CJ McCollum added 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting for the Blazers.
DeMar DeRozan totaled 28 points and nine assists for the Spurs.
Hornets 113, Heat 112
Kemba Walker scored 39 points and hit a free throw with 0.5 seconds remaining to give Charlotte a bizarre win at Miami.
Walker, who surpassed the career 10,000-point plateau early in the third quarter, was fouled as the Hornets played for the final shot with the score tied 112-112. He made the first free throw, then intentionally missed the second to allow the clock to expire.
Dwyane Wade led the Heat with 21 points. Goran Dragic scored 20, Rodney McGruder 19 and Derrick Jones Jr. and Bam Adebayo had 12 each. The Heat played without four regulars — Dion Waiters (knee), James Johnson (hernia), Justise Winslow (hamstring) and Wayne Ellington (ankle).
Mavericks 140, Timberwolves 136
Dennis Smith Jr. drained a step-back jumper and drew a foul for a three-point play with 6.1 seconds left to break a tie and lead Dallas to a wild win in its home opener against Minnesota, which was playing without the disenchanted Jimmy Butler on the second night of a back-to-back.
The Mavs, after losing by 21 points at Phoenix in their season opener Wednesday, got 26 points from rookie Luka Doncic, who showed poise down the stretch that included two big baskets late in the fourth. Free agent acquisition DeAndre Jordan provided 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.
The Wolves were led by Karl-Anthony Towns’ 31 points and 28 from a rejuvenated Derrick Rose. They were the most points Rose has scored in a game since March 27, 2017.
Pistons 118, Bulls 116
Ish Smith made a finger roll with 5.4 seconds remaining, giving Detroit a victory over host Chicago.
The game-winner came after Chicago scored five unanswered points to tie it. Following a timeout, Smith weaved past defenders and dropped in his layup. Zach LaVine, who led the Bulls with 33 points, then had a 3-point attempt swatted away by Blake Griffin, securing the Pistons’ victory.
Griffin finished with 33 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and one block. Reggie Jackson supplied 18 points and six assists while Smith had 15 points and five assists off the bench.
Raptors 117, Wizards 113
Kyle Lowry had 28 points and 12 assists, and visiting Toronto held off a late Washington rally.
Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka scored 16 points apiece for Toronto, which improved to 3-0. The Raptors, playing the second of back-to-back games, gave forward Kawhi Leonard the night off.
Washington was without center Dwight Howard (lower back), who missed his second game. Bradley Beal led the winless Wizards with 32 points, and John Wall added 25. Beal was 6 of 11 from 3-point range and passed Gilbert Arenas (868) for the franchise lead in 3-pointers.
Celtics 103, Knicks 101
Jayson Tatum scored all six points for Boston in the final minute and finished with a team-high 24 points in beating host New York.
Tatum also had 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who have won two of three to open the season. Marcus Morris and Kyrie Irving had 16 points apiece for Boston while Aron Baynes and Terry Rozier had 10 points each.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 24 points, and Enes Kanter had a double-double (17 points, 15 rebounds) for the Knicks, who have dropped two of three. Trey Burke added 11 points.
76ers 116, Magic 115
JJ Redick’s eighth 3-pointer was the decisive basket with 17 seconds remaining as host Philadelphia edged Orlando on a night that saw 76ers point guard and reigning Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons leave in the first quarter with tightness in his back.
Joel Embiid scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Redick added 31 points as the 76ers won their second straight game following a season-opening loss. Dario Saric added 13 points and nine rebounds, and Robert Covington scored 12 points for Philadelphia, which tied a franchise record with 17 3-pointers.
Orlando’s Evan Fournier made six 3-pointers and scored 31 points, and Nikola Vucevic registered 27 points, 13 rebounds and a career-best 12 assists for his second career triple-double. Aaron Gordon added 20 points and 12 rebounds, and Terrence Ross had 15 points off the bench for the Magic, who made 16 3-point baskets.
Pacers 132, Nets 112
Victor Oladipo scored a game-high 25 points — one of nine Pacers in double figures — and added four steals as host Indiana crushed Brooklyn.
Oladipo, who was 10 of 20 from the floor, also had seven rebounds. Kyle O’Quinn finished with 16 points and eight rebounds off the bench, Bojan Bogdanovic and Tyreke Evans each scored 15 points and Myles Turner added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who won their eighth straight over the Nets.
Joe Harris scored 19 points, hitting 5 of 6 of his 3-point shots, and Caris LeVert also finished with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting for Brooklyn. D’Angelo Russell added 12 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
—Field Level Media