Kyrie Irving took little satisfaction from a record-breaking 50-point haul on his Brooklyn Nets debut because the team suffered a 127-126 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Six-time All-Star Irving set a new scoring record for a player making a first appearance with an NBA team, also adding eight rebounds and seven assists at Barclays Center.

The point guard shot 17-of-33 from the field, including 7-of-14 from three-point range, but a slip on the final play out of a Nets timeout forced him into a rushed jump shot that rimmed out and consigned Brooklyn to an opening loss.

"The job wasn't done, so that 50 just goes into [the books as] another few numbers. It holds value, but not really when you don't get a win," said Irving.

"None of that stuff matters unless you get a win. The race is to get as many wins as you can in 82 games and put yourself in position down the stretch.

"We've got 81 more to go and we just take it day by day."

Despite Irving's impressive scoring, the Nets found themselves 18 points behind the Timberwolves with eight minutes and 18 seconds left on the clock in the second quarter.

Head coach Kenny Atkinson moved to absolve the 27-year-old of any blame for the defeat due to his late miss and expects more from Brooklyn as their chemistry improves.

"[Irving] was outstanding. Obviously, great debut for him. Disappointed we made such a big hole for us," said Atkinson. "Everybody talks about the end of the game. Really, this game was lost in the first half.

"I think we're getting to know each other and he's getting to know his team-mates. He's getting to know the system.

"I thought he made some great [plays], the pass to Jarrett Allen on the roll, we got two free throws out of. I think there was a kick out to Taurean Prince, wide open, so I think there were good plays made there.

"I always say with point guards: 'Read the defense. If the game calls for you to get 50 points, get 50. There are other nights where it's going to be 15 assists.'

"So we'll look at it and, again, I think a big part of this is just getting more reps together, knowing each other better."

When Stephen Curry takes to the Chase Center court on Thursday, he will be all alone.

He'll have team-mates, coaches, a tough opponent in the revamped Los Angeles Clippers, as well as hordes of screaming fans packed into the Golden State Warriors' lavish new arena but, in terms of superstars, he will be the lone representative for a Dubs team in the unfamiliar position of starting a season without the prohibitive favourites tag.

With Kevin Durant gone and Klay Thompson on the sideline, perhaps for the entire season, with a torn ACL, this is unequivocally Curry's team.

Of course, it always was. Durant conceded he never felt like "one of the guys" at Golden State, who already had a tight-knit core led by Curry when the Warriors recruited the 2014 MVP to the Bay Area, and that was likely a huge factor in his decision to join the Brooklyn Nets this offseason.

Though D'Angelo Russell, acquired in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Durant to Brooklyn, will share some of the load, Curry will not have to cede possessions to anybody. The offense, freed of the need to accommodate Durant, will revolve around two-time MVP Curry, who will carry the majority of the burden of leading an undermanned Warriors team to the playoffs. 

Curry will relish the pressure on his shoulders, and he should also see a season in which there is a lot less expected of the Warriors as an outstanding opportunity to claim a third MVP.

With the Warriors roster lacking quality depth, Curry can expect to spend significantly more time on the floor, bolstering hopes of putting up the kind of numbers that will put him firmly in the conversation for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy.

What will he need to do to become only the ninth player to win three MVPs? To answer that question we looked at the Stats Perform data from his previous two award-winning seasons and the competition he will likely face in 2019-20.

 

BACK-TO-BACK MVP YEARS

Curry won back-to-back MVPs in 2014-15 and 2015-16, as he proved instrumental in helping the Warriors claim a first NBA title since 1975, which they then followed up with a record-breaking 73-9 regular season, only to lose to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the NBA Finals.

The point guard produced incredible statistical seasons to take the most coveted individual prize in the league in successive seasons. In 2014-15, he averaged 34.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 11.1 assists per 100 possessions while playing 32.7 minutes per game. He also shot 44.3 per cent from three-point range.

In the following campaign, as the Warriors did the unthinkable and surpassed the mark of 72 wins set by the Chicago Bulls in 1995-96, Curry became the first unanimous MVP as he laid waste to defenses across the league. He joined the 50-40-90 club, shooting 50.4 per cent from the field, 45.4 per cent from beyond the arc, and 90.8 per cent from the free-throw line.

Per 100 possessions, Curry averaged 40.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 9.1 assists while playing 34.2 minutes per game. He will need similar numbers if he is to reclaim the prize.

THE COMPETITION

Since Curry's last MVP, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo have received the honour.

It is Antetokounmpo's win that provides the biggest indication of what Curry will need to do statistically to take it from 'The Greek Freak'.

Last season Harden averaged a whopping 48.2 points, 10 assists and 8.9 rebounds per 100 possessions and still did not repeat as MVP.

Instead Antetokounmpo was rewarded for leading the Milwaukee Bucks to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Per 100 possessions, he put up 39.3 points, 8.4 assists and an incredible 17.7 rebounds.

With Westbrook joining up with Harden at the Houston Rockets, LeBron James and Anthony Davis forming a potentially formidable duo for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Paul George teaming up with reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard on the Clippers, Antetokounmpo appears to be Curry's primary competition as the sole superstar on a contending team.

The level to which Antetokounmpo can dominate in every facet of the game means Curry will have to reproduce his 2015-16 brilliance to have a shot of dethroning him, and - as Harden can testify - even then it may not be enough.

However, that Warriors team had the likes of Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Andre Iguodala on the bench, with their presence allowing Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green to get plenty of rest.

In 2019 Curry does not have that luxury. He will likely have less rest, but more of a window to put up the Harden-esque numbers needed to challenge Antetokounmpo. If he does so and the Warriors perform better than anticipated, Curry may be delivering another MVP acceptance speech come the end of the campaign.

The Philadelphia 76ers opened their NBA season with a 107-93 win over rivals the Boston Celtics, while Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets lost.

Ben Simmons led the way with 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds as the 76ers topped the Celtics in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

Celtics debutant Kemba Walker – acquired to replace Irving in Boston – scored 12 points on four-of-18 shooting and one-of-six shooting from beyond the three-point line.

Irving made history in Brooklyn's 127-126 overtime loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves midweek.

Nets star Irving recorded the most points by a player on his team debut in NBA history after scoring 50 in the OT defeat.

The six-time All-Star broke Kiki VanDeWeghe's record, which was set in 1984 after the German-American posted 47 points for the Portland Trail Blazers.

 

Washington dazzles on Hornets debut

PJ Washington set a Charlotte Hornets rookie record by making seven three-pointers in the team's 126-125 win over the Chicago Bulls. He also had 27 points in his NBA debut.

Andre Drummond had 32 points, 23 rebounds and four blocks in the Detroit Pistons' 119-110 win over the Indiana Pacers.

 

Holiday highlights Pacers' woes

Indiana Pacers guard Aaron Holiday scored zero points on 0-of-six shooting and 0-of-one shooting from beyond the three-point line. That is probably the reason he only played seven minutes.

 

Fultz shows signs of life on Magic debut

Markelle Fultz's career with the Orlando Magic is off to a good start after a 94-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former number one pick, who struggled at the 76ers, also threw one down in transition.

Wednesday's results

Orlando Magic 94-85 Cleveland Cavaliers
Detroit Pistons 119-110 Indiana Pacers
Minnesota Timberwolves 127-126 Brooklyn Nets (OT)
Charlotte Hornets 126-125 Chicago Bulls
Miami Heat 120-101 Memphis Grizzlies
Philadelphia 76ers 107-93 Boston Celtics
Dallas Mavericks 108-100 Washington Wizards
San Antonio Spurs 120-111 New York Knicks
Utah Jazz 100-95 Oklahoma City Thunder
Denver Nuggets 108-100 Portland Trail Blazers
Phoenix Suns 124-95 Sacramento Kings

 

Bucks at Rockets

It is Russell Westbrook's Houston Rockets debut and now we get to see how he will work with James Harden. The two played together in Oklahoma City, but their usage rates were not nearly as high then as they are now. Oh, and we will see how reining MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo's shot has improved and if he will be more willing to shoot from beyond the arc.

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving recorded the most points by a player on his team debut in NBA history.

Irving made his Nets debut on Wednesday and scored 50 points in a 127-126 overtime defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The six-time All-Star broke Kiki VanDeWeghe's record, which was set in 1984 after the German-American posted 47 points for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Irving – who also had eight rebounds and seven assists – almost finished with 52 points and the game winner but lost his balance attempting a potential winning shot against the Timberwolves.

The 2016 NBA champion swapped the Boston Celtics for the Nets in the offseason to team up with superstar Kevin Durant, who is recovering from an Achilles injury.

Irving – into his ninth NBA season – averaged 23.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists last season.

 

 

 

The NBA fined Patrick Beverley $25,000 for tossing the ball into the crowd after the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

Beverley and the Clippers celebrated their season-opening 112-102 victory over city rivals the Lakers at Staples Center on Tuesday.

Following the buzzer, Beverley threw the ball underhand into the crowd, leading to a fine from the NBA on Wednesday.

While it is clear the 31-year-old was not attempting to harm anyone in the crowd, the league still found the action egregious enough to fine him.

Beverley is known around the league as a hard-nosed, in-your-face defender, but does not have a significant history when it comes to fines or suspensions.

In the win against LeBron James and the Lakers, Beverley had two points, 10 rebounds and six assists on one-of-seven shooting.

The Arkansas product re-signed with the Clippers in the offseason on a three-year deal for just under $40million.

Miami Heat recruit Jimmy Butler will miss the team's NBA season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies due to personal reasons.

The Heat made the announcement prior to Wednesday's visit of the Grizzlies at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra said "everything is fine" regarding Butler's situation and that "it's all good."

Butler – a four-time All-Star – signed a four-year, $140million deal with the Heat after moving to Miami in a sign-and-trade from the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason.

Last season, Butler was traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Sixers just 10 games into the season after he voiced his displeasure with the Minnesota front office.

In 65 games with Minnesota and Philadelphia, the 30-year-old averaged 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Digicel and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today (Wednesday, October 23) that the top 14 boys and girls from the Digicel NBA Jumpstart Elite Camp, held in Trinidad and Tobago from July 20-21, will participate in the Digicel NBA Jumpstart’s NBA Experience in New York from October 30 – November 4.

Anthony Davis says he and LeBron James are "trying to figure it out" as he outlined areas for improvement after the Lakers lost to Los Angeles rivals the Clippers in his debut for the team.

Kawhi Leonard was filled with emotion as he described an "amazing" return to Los Angeles after leading the Clippers to victory over the Lakers on the NBA's opening night.

Without Paul George, the Clippers won 112-102 against a Lakers team containing LeBron James and Anthony Davis at Staples Center.

Leonard produced an influential performance, as a game-high 30 points came with six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.

He was heavily booed by Lakers fans after turning down the chance to join the team in favour of joining their city rivals.

But Leonard, who won the NBA title with the Toronto Raptors last year, provided the perfect answer, hitting seven straight shots at one stage as the Clippers scored 40 points in the second quarter.

"All those emotions went through me again," Leonard said of his Clippers debut back in his hometown.

"Once I'm playing the game, I'm locked in. But before the game last night there were a lot of emotions, knowing my family was going to be here and that I'm going to be playing here at Staples, my hometown – it's just amazing.

"It was great, a lot of emotions, game one. I'm just happy we came out and got a victory. We played a great practice the last week, everyone competing and pushing everybody's limits and we had some carry over.

"I just made shots pretty much. I felt like I got to my spots early, missed some little chippies but started making shots. That's what happens."

Lakers fans targeted Leonard with boos when the lineups were announced and again as he attempted to address the Clippers' fans before the game.

"I just heard a loud noise," he said. "I was just trying to be as loud as I can. I wasn't sure if the Clipper fans were being loud or if it was the Laker fans.

"I didn't pay attention to it too much. I was just trying to let the fans know the appreciation we have for them for coming out."

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was impressed by Leonard's first outing, while also recognising the importance of the bench, who outscored the Lakers' second unit 60-19.

"He talks with his game," Rivers said of Leonard. "I think that's the way it should be. It's a great sign of leadership.

"He was intense. You could feel the intensity, there's no doubt about that. And this bench is going to be better this year than even last year."

Leonard, who was 10-of-19 shooting in 32 minutes, added: "These guys were a playoff team last year, they fight hard every single night. We are not going to stop just because I'm here or Paul's here.

"We're missing a couple more pieces still, with Paul and a great defender Rodney [McGruder] too."

The Clippers have another high-profile game up next, on the road against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.

LeBron James was "ecstatic" to be back in action at the start of the new NBA season, even though he was unable to help the Los Angeles Lakers to victory on opening night.

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

New Orleans Pelicans general manager David Griffin described speculation about rookie Zion Williamson's knee injury as "just asinine".

Williamson missed the Pelicans' season-opening 130-122 overtime loss to reigning champions the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday as the number one NBA draft pick recovers from injury.

The 19-year-old sensation – the most heralded rookie since LeBron James – will miss the first six to eight weeks of the season after undergoing meniscus surgery on his right knee.

And Griffin is not about to listen to the speculation that Williamson's injury is the result of poor conditioning or the size he carries.

"The notion that this happened because Zion is in poor condition is just asinine," Griffin told reporters. "He wasn't in poor condition when he went 12 of 13 last week against Utah.

"That's not what it is. He's just a very unique body type and certainly from a physics perspective.”

Griffin added: "I've seen the narrative out there about him [that] this happened because he's not in shape and he's too big.

"That dude is a freak of nature. When he went through his physical, he ran on the treadmill longer than the cardio-stress test people have ever needed to put anybody through a test to get his heart rate up.

"That happened because he's touched by the hand of God to do this. He's in elite condition. He stays in elite condition."

Kyrie Irving is expected to be the Brooklyn Nets' key player this season but the All-Star insisted a group effort will determine the direction of the team.

Irving swapped the Boston Celtics for the Nets to team up with Kevin Durant amid much hype and fanfare in the offseason.

Irving is set to be the alpha dog in 2019-20 as former Golden State Warriors superstar Durant recovers from an Achilles injury.

However, Irving told reporters on Tuesday: "I think that we all share a certain responsibility in the leadership here.

"I think that some of my past experiences, there could be a sense of alienation when you think about someone naming you as just the leader of the team and falling all in your court.

"I want to share those responsibilities with those guys — obviously we have different roles, that every single night there's a consistency that you have to live up to, and your game. But overall, there shouldn't be a different communication that I have with [Dzanan] Musa or Caris [LeVert] just because I am a nine-year vet, or anything like that."

Irving's leadership style was questioned when he clashed with some of his team-mates at the Celtics last season and Boston failed to live up to lofty championship expectations.

But now the star point guard is in a completely different situation as he attempts to put a Brooklyn team that have never won an NBA title on the map.

"This is just one accord, one team, one common voice," Irving said. "We all share our own experiences and we want to use that to become better as a team. So yeah, individually we have our own leadership, but as a group, we all share that responsibility."

Irving – a six-time All-Star – is entering his ninth NBA season and averaged 23.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game last year.

He will make his Nets debut as Brooklyn host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday.

 

Michael Jordan does not yet believe Stephen Curry has had the career to be considered a Hall of Fame player.

Several years ago Jordan said he would pick Scottie Pippen, Magic Johnson, Hakeem Olajuwon and James Worthy to play alongside him as an unbeatable team in any pickup game.

He was asked if he would stick with that selection in a wide-ranging interview with Craig Melvin on "Today". Jordan insisted he would not change those picks — not even for Curry.  

"I'm going in the trenches. I played against and with all these guys," Jordan said. "I'm going with who I know. Every single night, their responsibility to go out there and represent greatness, every single night." 

Melvin asked: "So Steph Curry shouldn't be offended when he watches this?"

"I hope not. He's still a great player. Not a Hall of Famer yet, though," Jordan said with a smile. "He's not."

Golden State Warriors superstar Curry, 31, is a two-time MVP and a three-time NBA champion.

He has averaged 23.5 points, 6.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in his 10-year career.

Jordan, now 56, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 after he earned six championships, six NBA Finals MVPs and five league MVPs.

He also made 14 All-Star appearances in his 15-year career. The Chicago Bulls took Jordan with the third overall pick in 1984, and he went on to play 13 seasons over two stints before spending two years with the Washington Wizards. 

The offseason has been all about the major moves.

Kawhi Leonard left the Raptors after delivering an NBA title to Toronto, Anthony Davis linked up with Lakers star LeBron James in Los Angeles, while Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both wound up at the Brooklyn Nets.

However, we take a look at some of the under-the-radar aspects of the 2019-20 season - from rotations you might not think about to potential Sixth Man of the Year contenders.

TEAMS

Utah Jazz - The Jazz have been to the playoffs in each of the last three seasons after finishing fifth in the stacked Western Conference on each occasion.

But there may not have been a move that went more unnoticed than Bojan Bogdanovic signing in Utah, and there may be no move that will quietly have a big impact than Mike Conley arriving in a trade.

Conley allows Donovan Mitchell to play off the ball, which makes him better, and Bogdanovic adds another layer of scoring to a team that really struggled to put the ball in the basket when Mitchell was off his shooting game last season. This team has a real chance to win the West and still no one is paying much attention.

Miami Heat - Any team that adds Jimmy Butler instantly becomes competitive. The Heat needed to start anew after the first and second eras of Dwyane Wade, and Butler could be just the guy to do that.

Add Tyler Herro to the mix to give Miami some much-needed shooting and a bigger role for Bam Adebayo in the middle after the departure of Hassan Whiteside and this team is at the least interesting, at the most a contender for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference.

PLAYERS

Bogdan Bogdanovic - Bogdanovic often gets lost in the shuffle on a team with good, young talent, but he is the sparkplug that makes the Kings' second unit go.

He might not average 25 points a game, but he is more than capable of putting up a 25-point performance off the bench on a regular basis, and that probably is why the Kings are reportedly offering him a max contract extension as he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Jrue Holiday - It's hard to be under the radar if you're an All-Star and a two-time NBA All-Defensive member, but everyone seems to forget about Holiday.

He is now the alpha dog on a New Orleans Pelicans team that lost Davis, and he is coming off a career year. 

Holiday could easily one-up himself this season and maybe even get the Pelicans fighting for a playoff spot with a good young core of Zion Williamson and Lonzo Ball now in the fold.

ROTATIONS

Oklahoma City Thunder - The Thunder have been understandably written off after trading Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets and Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, but this team could actually be pretty exciting this year.

In acquiring Chris Paul, the Thunder have an All-Star point guard who can get the ball to Steven Adams for some easy dunks in the pick-and-roll.

Then adding guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is a very exciting young player, and Danilo Gallinari, who has always been entertaining, gives the Thunder a very interesting starting rotation. Then add guys off the bench like Dennis Schroder and Hamidou Diallo and Oklahoma City fans certainly will have something to cheer for this season.

It should be noted though that is all on paper as the Thunder may try to move Adams and Paul as they try to rebuild, but for now the team should be fun to watch early in the season. We'll see if that translates into wins though.

Atlanta Hawks - No one will pay attention to the Hawks until they get a few more years into this rebuild, but like the Thunder, Atlanta has some fun pieces to watch and build around.

Trae Young very well could have won Rookie of the Year last season, John Collins had an argument to be an All-Star and Kevin Huerter became a good rotation player by the end of the season. Add rookies De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish into the fold along with veteran Evan Turner and this team looks like it will be more competitive this season. We'll see how the depth does in the long run though.

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