As the 2018-19 NBA season moves closer, five games on the preseason schedule took place with LeBron’s LA Lakers debut the feature story.
Denver Nuggets 124-107 LA Lakers
The preseason showdown between the Denver Nuggets and the LA Lakers was all about the debut of LeBron James in the purple and gold. It was a sell-out at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego with 13,500 fans attending. The Denver Nuggets took the 124-107 victory on the night, but King James didn’t disappoint in his 15 minutes on court. He ended the contest with nine points, three rebounds and three assists but went through his whole repertoire with long 3-pointers, incisive passes and big dunks. Another new Laker JaVale McGee top-scored with 17 points, also grabbing seven rebounds. Brandon Ingram scored 16, Rajon Rondo dished 11 assists and claimed seven boards, Kyle Kuzma added 15 points to the team total with Lance Stephenson scoring 12. Congolese-German rookie Isaac Bonga scored two points and claimed a rebound as Lonzo Ball sat out.
Juan Hernangomez was the game’s high scorer with 19 points for the Nuggets. Denver had seven players in total score in double digits. Jamal Murray ended with 18 points, Nikola Jokic and Trey Lyles both scored 14 apiece, Monte Morris and Malik Beasley finished with 12 each and Mason Plumlee contributed 11 points and eight rebounds. Isaiah Thomas and Gary Harris sat out.
Charlotte Hornets 112-115 Boston Celtics
The Charlotte Hornets and Boston Celtics both played second games of preseason with the Celtics trumping the Hornets on this occasion. Kyrie Irving led the way for Boston with 20 points and four assists. Jayson Tatum scored 16 points, Terry Rozier added 13, Marcus Morris contributed 12 and Jaylen Brown scored 11 points. Gordon Hayward had a quiet game as he continued his comeback from injury as he scored four points, grabbed four rebounds, passed three assists, stole the ball once and blocked a shot. African Celtics players Guerschon Yabusele (Congolese-French) and Semi Ojeleye (Nigerian-American) scored eight and six points, respectively.
Hornets rookie Miles Bridges was the game’s top scorer with 23 points as he went 4-of-6 from 3-point range. Willy Hernangomez ended the contest with 14 points, Malik Monk scored 13 and Kemba Walker added 10. Cameroonian-French forward Nicolas Batum scored eight points, claimed five boards and dished four assists. Congolese center Bismack Biyombo had his first preseason action and scored six points, grabbed a rebound, stole the ball and blocked a shot in his 10 minutes on court.
Miami Heat 100-104 San Antonio Spurs
The turmoil surrounding the San Antonio Spurs over the offseason around former star Kawhi Leonard and the addition of DeMar DeRozan in the trade that had Leonard heading to Toronto, was put in the rear-view mirror. The Spurs beat the Miami Heat, 104-100, in their preseason opener. DeMar DeRozan scored seven points, dished two assists and grabbed two rebounds in his competitive debut. Derrick White was San Antonio’s top scorer with 12 points off the bench. Rudy Gay scored 13 points and claimed five rebounds, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 10, while Davis Bertans also finished with 10. Bertans also snatched five rebounds and swatted two blocks. Spurs’ Nigerian-American forward Chimezie Metu played 12 minutes and scored two points, clinched two rebounds, dished an assist and blocked a shot.
Hassan Whiteside was the standout player with a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double, with two steals and two blocks rounding out his performance. Rodney McGruder scored 15 points, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson both scored 12 apiece and Dwyane Wade added 10 to the team total.
The Chicago Bulls beat the New Orleans Pelicans, 128-116, and the LA Clippers took down the Sydney Kings, 110-91.
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