Hornets fall just short against Thunder
By Steve Reed
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander knocked down a go-ahead jumper with 1.4 seconds left and finished with 24 points, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder hold off a furious rally by the Charlotte Hornets to win their season opener 109-107 Saturday night.
The Thunder led by 13 with 1:50 to go, but Miles Bridges spurred Charlotte with 11 of his 14 points in the final 1:06 — including a trio of 3s in the last 25 seconds. His final 3 tied it at 107 with 10.3 seconds left.
Gilgeous-Alexander then took the inbound pass, brought the ball up the floor and pulled up from 23 feet to drain a contested jumper over Caleb Martin from the top of the key.
“He understood how much time he had and got to his spot,” said Mark Daigneault, who won in his debut as Oklahoma City’s coach.
George Hill was 8 of 9 from the field and finished with 21 points, and Darius Bazley and Luguentz Dort each had 15 points for the Thunder after their first scheduled game against the Rockets was postponed earlier in the week.
Hill said he liked what he saw from the new-look Thunder.
“This season is a going to have a lot of ups and downs, some wins and losses, but the more we can stay together and be resilient, we will be fine,” Hill said.
Terry Rozier, who had 42 points on 10 3-pointers in Charlotte’s loss to the Cavaliers to open the season, had 19 points to lead the Hornets, but his desperation heave at the buzzer fell short.
P.J. Washington added 18 points and rookie LaMelo Ball scored 13 points off the bench.
Ball was held scoreless in the NBA regular season debut against the Cavaliers but scored nine in the first quarter Saturday, including two 3s. He later got a floater to fall from 13 feet and added a dunk off a steal, finishing the first half 5 of 6 from the floor for 13 points to give the Hornets a 59-57 lead at the break. However, he did not score in the second half, missing all four shots from the field.
“I thought LaMelo played extremely well tonight,” Hornets coach James Borrego said. “There may be more minutes for him. Tonight was a good step for him.”
The Thunder outrebound the Hornets 54-47 behind 13 boards from Al Horford.
Charlotte shot 6 of 31 from the field in the third quarter after shooting 50% in the first half.
Cody Zeller remains out at least four weeks after breaking a bone in his left hand in the team’s season-opening loss at Cleveland.
The Hornets host Kevin Durant and the Nets in a back-to-back at home tonight.
In other NBA action Saturday:
Hawks 122, Grizzlies 112
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Trae Young scored eight straight points down the stretch and finished with 36 points as Atlanta beat Memphis.
Kevin Huerter added 21 points for the Hawks, who won their second straight. De’Andre Hunter finished with 15 points and rookie Nathan Knight added 14 points, going 4 of 5 from the field and 2-for-3 shooting from 3-point range.
Ja Morant led Memphis with 28 points and seven assists, and Kyle Anderson finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds. Dillon Brooks added 19 points before fouling out in the closing seconds.
The game was a showdown between two of the league’s top young point guards in Young and Morant, both of whom had big season-openers. Young had 37 points in the Hawks’ 124-104 win at Chicago, while Morant scored a career-high 44 in a home loss to San Antonio.
Young scored 10 points in the final 2:40 against the Grizzlies, starting with the eight straight to keep Memphis from overtaking Atlanta.
The young guards carried their teams through the first half, with the Hawks also getting an early burst from Huerter, who had 13 points at the break, hitting all five of his shots.
The Hawks held a 58-56 lead at the half.
Pacers 125, Bulls 106
CHICAGO (AP) — Domantas Sobonis had 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, and Indiana used big scoring runs in the second and third quarters to cruise to victory over Chicago.
T.J. Warren scored 23 points and Victor Oladipo added 22 as Indiana beat its Central Division rivals for a 10th straight time, including five straight at the United Center. Zach LaVine scored 17 points and Lauri Markkanen had 16 points for Chicago.
76ers 109, Knicks 89
NEW YORK (AP) — Joel Embiid had 27 points and 10 rebounds while remaining unbeaten at Madison Square Garden, and Philadelphia beat the New York Knicks.
Ben Simmons had 15 points, nine rebounds and six assists while also leading the defensive effort that forced New York’s RJ Barrett into a miserable shooting performance. Embiid and Simmons have never dropped a game at MSG and the Sixers have won the last 13 meetings overall.
Tobias Harris and Seth Curry each scored 17 points to help
Philadelphia improve to 2-0. New coach Doc Rivers earned his 945th victory, moving ahead of Bill Fitch into sole possession of 10th place.
Julius Randle scored 25 points for the Knicks, who fell to 0-2 under Tom Thibodeau. Barrett, after a 26-point opener, shot 2 for 15 and had 10 points.
Magic 120, Wizards 120
WASHINGTON (AP) — Terrence Ross scored 25 points and Orlando overcame Russell Westbrook triple-double in his home debut for Washington.
Westbrook had 15 points, 15 rebounds and 12 assistst to become the fourth player in NBA history to record triple-doubles in his team’s first two games. Magic Johnson (twice), Jerry Lucas and Oscar Robertson previously accomplished the feat. Westbrook is the first player to do it with a new team after being acquired from Houston in the offseason for John Wall.
Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 17 rebounds, and Markelle Fultz added 21 points to help the Magic improve to 2-0. Bradley Beal had 39 points for the Wizards. They are 0-2.
Cavaliers 128, Pistons 119, 2OT
DETROIT (AP) — Collin Sexton scored 32 points and three of his teammates had at least 21 points, helping Cleveland outlast Detroit in double-overtime.
The Cavs took advantage of Detroit wasting opportunities to win in regulation and the first overtime, improving to 2-0 and dropping the Pistons to 0-2.
Cleveland center Andre Drummond had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Darius Garland added 21 points and 12 assists, and Cedi Osman had 22 points. Kevin Love, who scored 15 points, returned after missing the opener with a calf injury and JaVale McGee had 11 points off the bench for the Cavs.
Jerami Grant had 14 of his 28 points in the third quarter for Detroit. Blake Griffin had 26 points.
Spurs 119, Raptors 114
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan had 27 points and San Antonio rallied in the final minute to beat Toronto.
DeRozan’s 3-pointer with a minute remaining pulled the Spurs within 114-113, and they took a 115-114 lead on LaMarcus Aldridge’s fadeaway put-back with 29.9 seconds remaining.
Toronto’s Kyle Lowry missed a pull-up 19-footer with 22.3 seconds left, and Rudy Gay made two free throws at the other end.
Fred VanVleet had 27 points and Chris Boucher added 22 points for the Raptors in their first road game.
Patty Mills added 21 points for San Antonio.
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