Giannis Antetokounmpo described his Milwaukee Bucks team-mates as "amazing" for closing out a 117-111 victory over the Houston Rockets after he fouled out on Thursday.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo picked up his sixth foul when the Bucks were leading by six points with five minutes and 18 seconds remaining in their first NBA game of 2019-20 at Toyota Center.

The Greek helped Milwaukee overturn a 16-point half-time deficit by posting 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, making him the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1966 to post a 30-point triple-double in a season opener.

Antetokounmpo feels the Bucks took a significant step forward by holding on for the win in his enforced absence.

"I was p***** [to foul out], I'm not gonna lie," he said. "Obviously, a stupid sixth foul - I got under [Clint] Capela. I could have avoided it, but it's an opener and you're so excited. But as a basketball player you have to control your excitement.

"They did an amazing job [to hold on for the win]. Moved the ball, knocked down shots. Brook [Lopez] executed from the post, knocked down shots and made the right plays, so they did an amazing job.

"It feels amazing. Being down 16 and able to come back and nobody was complaining, everyone was focused on the game - at no point did it feel like we gave up. We played harder, defended harder, executed harder and it's game number one. This can only make you better.

"The chemistry is amazing. We need to keep working on that, and you're going to find adversities throughout the season. But at the end of the day, you've got to face moments like this because moments like this make you better."

Russell Westbrook poured in 24 points to go with 16 rebounds, seven assists and two steals on his Rockets debut, while James Harden had 19 points and 14 assists.

Seven-time All-Star Harden shouldered the blame for the loss and hopes to rediscover his usual "swagger" quickly.

"I didn't play well offensively the entire night. Give them credit, they came back and played well that second half but this one is on me. I wasn't as aggressive enough and that's what it was," said Harden.

"It's the first game of the season so I've got to get my rhythm as well. I wish I would just go out there and make every shot, have my swagger like I will be. It will come."

Westbrook added: "I've got to do a better job of helping [Harden] out. Especially when teams we're playing are guarding him like that. That's why I'm here; to make a better career for him, so he doesn't have to create and do everything like he's accustomed to doing.

"When that happens, we've got to do a better job of figuring it out, [we] kind of waited too late to do that."

Draymond Green provided a scathing assessment of the Golden State Warriors' performance in their season-opening defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers, in which he believed they "f****** sucked".

The Warriors first regular-season game at Chase Center ended in a blowout 141-122 loss to the Clippers as they were given an indication of how difficult a 2019-20 season without the departed Kevin Durant and the injured Klay Thompson could be.

Stephen Curry had 23 points for the Warriors but it was a chastening night for Golden State, for whom Green briefly left the game because of a nerve issue in his arm.

Speaking in a post-game media conference, Green said: "I'm not a moral victory kind of guy, I'm not looking for something to build off on. We f****** sucked.

"Our defense was atrocious ... off the ball, on the ball, pick-and-roll, transition defense."

Steve Kerr was also in no mood to sugarcoat things, the head coach fully expecting there to be more games like this for a Warriors team entering a transition after five successive NBA Finals appearances.

"This is not a one off. This is more the reality of the NBA. The last five years, we've been living in a world that's not supposed to exist," said Kerr.

"Nine guys 23 or younger. We're starting over, in many respects.

"There are going to be nights like this this year."

Curry added: "[The] easy answer is it's one of 82 [games]. But there were some glaring things we need to correct to win basketball games."

The Warriors go on the road to face the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.

The Golden State Warriors' first NBA game at Chase Center ended in defeat as the Kawhi Leonard-led Los Angeles Clippers stayed unbeaten.

After 47 years at Oracle Arena in Oakland, the Warriors relocated to neighbouring San Francisco in the offseason.

But their first competitive game in San Francisco did not go according to plan following Thursday's 141-122 loss to the Clippers.

Even without Paul George, the Clippers looked great on both sides of the court as Leonard, Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson all finished with 20 or more points to preserve Los Angeles' perfect start after two games.

Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell were good for the Warriors, but Russell did not do much after scoring the Warriors' first 10 points and Curry struggled shooting the ball throughout the game, going two of 11 from three-point range.

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, became the first player in Milwaukee Bucks history to record a triple-double in a season opener.

Antetokounmpo – the first player since Oscar Robertson in 1966 with a 30-point triple-double in a season opener – finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists as the Bucks overcame a 16-point half-time deficit to beat the Houston Rockets 117-111.

Every single Milwaukee starter finished in double digits in scoring, while Russell Westbrook led the Rockets with 24 points and 16 rebounds in his Houston debut. 

 

Young stars as Hawks fly high

Trae Young had 38 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the Atlanta Hawks' 117-100 win over the Detroit Pistons.

 

Reddish and Harden struggle

Cam Reddish's rookie year is off to a tough shooting start. He scored one point on 0-of-six shooting, including 0 of five from three-point range. He did have seven rebounds, though.

James Harden scored 19 points, but the Rockets star went two-of-13 shooting in the loss to the Bucks.

 

Harden and Westbrook reunite

Harden and Westbrook look like they will at least be fun together in Houston.

 

Thursday's results

Atlanta Hawks 117-100 Detroit Pistons
Milwaukee Bucks 117-111 Houston Rockets
Los Angeles Clippers 141-122 Golden State Warriors

 

Jazz at Lakers

Two teams that added big pieces this offseason face off in Los Angeles on Friday. Mike Conley joins Donovan Mitchell in the Utah Jazz's backcourt, while Anthony Davis teams up with LeBron James and the Lakers. And that is not even the half of it as Danny Green, Bojan Bogdanovic (who may be hurt), Quinn Cook and Dwight Howard are all finding their way with new teams. 

The NBA has suspended Phoenix Suns star Deandre Ayton for 25 games after violating the terms of the league's anti-drug program.

It was announced on Thursday that 2018 number one draft pick Ayton had tested positive for a diuretic, with the 21-year-old to serve a ban without pay.

Ayton's suspension will start with Friday's game between the Suns and the Denver Nuggets.

The National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) is already planning arbitration to reduce or rescind the penalty entirely due to Ayton allegedly unintentionally taking the drug, according to reports.

Ayton scored 18 points and added 11 rebounds in Phoenix's season-opening 124-95 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.

He was named to the NBA's All-Rookie team last season after averaging 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds.

The NFL trade deadline is just around the corner and there are notes galore.

The Washington Nationals are up 2-0 in the World Series and the best team in baseball are on the ropes.

And Conor McGregor said he has a fight lined up but Dana White will not confirm it.

It has been a full week in U.S. Sports.

 

1. NFL teams making moves as trade deadline approaches

The NFL trade deadline is 16:00 ET on Tuesday and things are starting to heat up.

First, there have already been several moves as the Atlanta Falcons have traded wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots, the Oakland Raiders have moved cornerback Gareon Conley to the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos have dealt wideout Emmanuel Sanders to the San Francisco 49ers.

But that is not all. The Patriots have also placed wideout Josh Gordon on injured reserve with a knee injury, but the expectation is he will be cut once he is healthy and will pass through waivers to be picked up by another team.

This is only the beginning. After the NFL moved the trade deadline back from Week 6 to Week 8 in recent years, there has been a lot more action around the final date. This season expects to be the same as there are even rumours of the Broncos moving Pro Bowl corner Chris Harris in the coming days. We have an exciting weekend ahead of us.

 

2. Nationals lead Astros in World Series

Not a lot of people saw this coming. Some individuals who knew the Nationals might not have been surprised at Washington taking one of two games in Houston or possibly even both, but very few saw a 2-0 lead heading into Game 3 in D.C. and a 12-3 blowout in Game 2.

The Nationals have beaten Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander in back-to-back games, marking just the third time that has happened all year and the first time it has occurred at Minute Maid Park. 

And now, Washington have Anibal Sanchez on the bump for Game 3 and Patrick Corbin lined up for Game 4, while the Astros are almost certain to go with a bullpen game in two days, possibly with their postseason lives on the line.

This one almost looks in the bag for Washington as teams that have gone up 2-0 in the World Series are 22-3 in the last 25 occurrences. The Astros may be done, but Zack Greinke will do all he can to keep that from being inevitable in Game 3 on Friday.

 

3. NBA season starts without Williamson

The NBA season is underway as the Los Angeles Clippers dropped the Los Angeles Lakers in the opener, Kyrie Irving scored 50 points in his Brooklyn Nets debut which ended in a loss, and the Kemba Walker era began with the Boston Celtics being thoroughly handled by the Philadelphia 76ers.

But as the festivities begin, some of the lustre is off the opening of the season as top pick pick Zion Williamson will not be playing for six to eight weeks while he is dealing with a knee injury.

Williamson was the prohibitive favourite to win the Rookie of the Year Award, but now the honour is wide open for Ja Morant, RJ Barrett or even PJ Washington to take control.

While that award has somewhat been put on hold, we wait for the inevitable arrival of New Orleans Pelicans sensation Williamson and the obvious hype to come with it.

 

4. McGregor continues to blow smoke

The former two-class UFC champion claimed he has a fight lined up for January 18 and plans to make his return to the Octagon against an unnamed opponent.

This comes less than a week after he "set up" a fight with Frankie Edgar on Twitter only to see UFC president Dana White shoot it down almost immediately.

White said after McGregor's declaration that he had a January 18 fight set up that nothing was even close to being done but he is targeting that date for a return.

We will see what actually happens in the long run, but here us hoping Justin Gaethje gets that shot. 

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 LA Clippers secured a big win over rivals LA Lakers on the opening night of the NBA.  Is it a sign of things to come?

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.

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