The New Orleans Pelicans sent a statement to the rest of the league with a 130-108 pounding of the Brooklyn Nets in their opening game of the NBA season on Wednesday night.
Playing away from home, the Pelicans enjoyed a red-hot start, with eight points in the first quarter from Zion Williamson helping to build a 32-14 lead at the first break.
The Nets showed some fight in the second quarter, putting up 36 points in the frame to trim the margin to 58-50 as Kevin Durant had 21 in the first half, but the Pelicans came out of halftime and dropped 40 points in the third period to put the game to bed.
In his first game since May 2021, Williamson looked in tremendous shape, scoring 25 points on 11-of-22 shooting while adding nine rebounds, three assists and four steals.
He was supported in fine fashion by Brandon Ingram, who top-scored for the Pelicans with 28 points (10-of-17 shooting), seven rebounds and five assists, and C.J. McCollum chipped in 21 points and six assists as well.
For the Nets, Durant showed he is still arguably the best scorer in the league with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, and he also tallied four blocks in an impressive two-way performance despite his team’s shortcomings.
Box-office Banchero validates top draft selection
Paolo Banchero was not thought to be an option for the Orlando Magic with the first overall pick until the day of the NBA Draft, but he showed exactly why they took him with a spectacular debut in a 113-109 loss on the road to the Detroit Pistons.
Banchero shattered the Magic record for points by a debuting rookie – previously set at 13 – with 27 on 11-of-18 shooting, and he also grabbed nine rebounds and dished five assists in a complete performance, posting a plus/minus of plus two in his 35 minutes.
It was a great debut for rookie Jaden Ivey as well, who the Pistons selected with the fifth overall pick, as he put up 19 points on eight-of-15 shooting with four assists and three steals.
Ivey complemented last year’s top pick Cade Cunningham beautifully, with Cunningham running the show on his way to 18 points (six-of-16 shooting) and 10 assists, while newly acquired Bojan Bogdanovic top-scored for Detroit with 24 points on eight-of-16 shooting after hitting six of his first seven three-point attempts.
Morant lifts the Grizzlies in overtime
Ja Morant had his potential game-winner wiped off the board due to a contentious charging foul, but his Memphis Grizzlies got the job done at home in overtime to defeat the New York Knicks 115-112.
Morant was the game’s top-scorer with 34 points on 11-of-24 shooting, and his nine assists was equal with New York’s Jalen Brunson for the most in the contest.
Starting in place of the injured Jaren Jackson Jr, Santi Aldama gave a good performance with 18 points (seven-of-14 shooting) and 11 rebounds, while Julius Randle was the Knicks’ best player, scoring 24 points (nine-of-16 shooting) with 11 rebounds and six assists.
Mitchell shines in Cavaliers debut despite loss
The Cleveland Cavaliers were treated to a terrific debut from star offseason acquisition Donovan Mitchell, but it was not enough to overcome an early Darius Garland injury in a 108-105 road loss to the Toronto Raptors.
All-Star point guard Garland only played 13 minutes before his night ended with a rough poke to the eye in the second quarter. Taking over some of Garland’s point guard responsibilities, Mitchell dished off nine assists as well as leading the game in scoring with 31 on 12-of-21 shooting.
All five Raptors starters scored at least 15 points in classic Toronto fashion, with Pascal Siakam tallying 23 on nine-of-20 shooting with 11 rebounds and four steals, while reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes had 15 points (seven-of-14 shooting) with seven assists and a game-high plus/minus of plus 20 in his 32 minutes.