The Los Angeles Clippers suffered their first defeat of the NBA season after losing 130-122 to the Phoenix Suns.

Kawhi Leonard had led the Clippers to back-to-back wins to start the campaign, however, they went down to the Suns on Saturday.

Devin Booker scored 30 points and Kelly Oubre Jr. added 20 as the Suns snapped a 12-game losing streak to the Clippers.

Leonard put up 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds for the visiting Clippers in Phoenix.

The Miami Heat spoiled the Milwaukee Bucks' home opener after prevailing 131-126 in overtime.

Giannis Antetokounmpo's Bucks held a 21-point lead in the third quarter but still lost to the rallying Heat, who were led by Goran Dragic's 25 points off the bench.

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo finished with 29 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists to go with eight turnovers before fouling out late in overtime.

 

Westbrook surpasses Magic

Houston Rockets star Russell Westbrook passed Magic Johnson for second place on the NBA's all-time triple-doubles list with his 139th. Westbrook had 28 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the 126-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Trae Young might not have won Rookie of the Year last season, but he might be the NBA's MVP through two games (take that for what you will). The Atlanta Hawks guard scored 39 points while adding nine assists and seven rebounds in a 103-99 win over the Orlando Magic.

Kemba Walker scored 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the Boston Celtics' 118-95 victory against the New York Knicks.

 

Osman underwhelms despite Cavs win

Cedi Osman's four-year extension with the Cavaliers netted Cleveland one point and one rebound in 28 minutes in a 110-99 win over the Indiana Pacers.

 

DeRozan dazzles

DeMar DeRozan produced a nice layup through traffic to seal the deal for the San Antonio Spurs with five seconds remaining in a 124-122 win over the Washington Wizards.

Saturday's results

Miami Heat 131-126 Milwaukee Bucks
Philadelphia 76ers 117-111 Detroit Pistons
Atlanta Hawks 103-99 Orlando Magic
Boston Celtics 118-95 New York Knicks
Houston Rockets 126-123 New Orleans Pelicans
Toronto Raptors 108-84 Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers 110-99 Indiana Pacers
San Antonio Spurs 124-122 Washington Wizards
Utah Jazz 113-81 Sacramento Kings
Phoenix Suns 130-122 Los Angeles Clippers

 

Trail Blazers at Mavericks

The Kristaps Porzingis era is off to a great start in Dallas as the Mavericks are unbeaten through two games. But Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has come out strong, too, and he presents a very interesting backcourt matchup opposite Luka Doncic.

Joel Embiid has been ruled out of the Philadelphia 76ers' game at the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

It was reported the Sixers star had suffered a sprained right ankle during Wednesday's opening win over the Boston Celtics.

Embiid confirmed he had experienced discomfort and he did not participate in practice on Friday ahead of the game in Detroit.

The Philadelphia center was able to take some part in Saturday's shootaround, but he reportedly then told medical staff he could not play.

Confirmation followed from the Sixers that Embiid would be out, while Mike Scott was listed as probable.

Al Horford was set to start in place of Embiid, who contributed 15 points and 13 rebounds to the 107-93 win over the Celtics.

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.

For the second consecutive season, a basketball titan has fled from the Eastern Conference to Los Angeles, and Kawhi Leonard's departure from the Toronto Raptors has opened up the NBA's weaker conference.

That means a new team could rise to prominence and steal the reigning champions' spotlight.

Some franchises have had postseason success and are a step away from making an NBA Finals appearance while others are undergoing complete rebuilds.

All this will make for some exciting team and individual battles in 2019-20, and here's what we think you can expect this season.

Team on the rise: Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia came agonisingly close to defeating Toronto and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and the Sixers made some major moves over the offseason that could help them reach the championship series. They acquired one of the players most adept at guarding Joel Embiid by adding often-underrated Al Horford to their frontcourt rotation in free agency.

Philly also added a talented wing defender in Josh Richardson, giving them even more size.

Their starters could very well be the best defensive unit in the league, and Philadelphia added another specialist coming off the bench in 2019 first-rounder Matisse Thybulle, who has averaged 4.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes in five preseason appearances.

Philadelphia could also have much more offensive upside, despite losing JJ Redick in free agency this summer. One of the team's main problems has been spacing because of Ben Simmons' reluctance to shoot the ball outside the paint, but he's shown more confidence firing from range in preseason play.

The 76ers have one of the most dominant post players in basketball in Embiid, a freakish point guard with dazzling ball skills in Simmons and room for growth. This could be the 76ers' year.

Team on the slide: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte were respectable last season and finished ninth in the standings — just two games back from the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons. But losing their lone All-Star Kemba Walker will do obvious damage. It is unclear what the Hornets can do to turn things around, as there are quite a few questions they need to answer.

Terry Rozier will have big shoes to fill as he steps into Charlotte's starting point guard spot. Replacing an All-NBA talent is no simple task, and Rozier will have a lot to prove as the first offensive option on a team for the first time in his pro career.

Then there's the young core. The Hornets used a first-round pick on PJ Washington in the 2019 NBA Draft, but could also start Miles Bridges at that position. Marvin Williams logged 75 starts last year while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a deteriorating Nicolas Batum also split time there. The jury is out on Dwayne Bacon, Malik Monk, and Devonte Graham, and every decent team in the Eastern Conference will have more consistent rotational pieces.

It's unlikely Charlotte will be able to move Batum's and Bismack Biyombo's undesirable contracts, so there's not much flexibility to acquire assets for the future. The Hornets have basically no shot at landing a big-name free agent, so they'll need to be bad enough to get some top-tier draft picks to avoid remaining a middling franchise just outside of the playoff picture.

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo led his team to the best record (60-22) in basketball last year and essentially has his supporting pieces returning for 2019-20 — save for Malcolm Brogdon.

Each year, Antetokounmpo adds to his bag of tricks, and a step up from the 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on 57.8 per cent shooting certainly would be something.

Whether it's shooting, playmaking or handling the ball that he improves, it'll make him more dangerous. He'll continue to be a nightmare for opposing teams and will have plenty of eyes watching his development entering year seven.

Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

Few rookies will handle the ball as much as Morant will this season, and that's reason enough to believe he has a good shot at competing for Rookie of the Year.

Morant will be Memphis' floor general and basically be handed the keys to the offense. He's done a great job so far, tallying 7.3 assists per contest in preseason while averaging only 21.9 minutes. Morant will get more playing time in the regular season and will benefit from playing alongside the athletic Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson. 

Stat shot: Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

Robinson was an enigma protecting the rim from the post and the perimeter last season with his natural shot-blocking ability, and it'll be interesting to track how he follows up his rookie season with the Knicks.

He totalled 161 blocks in just 66 games and averaged 2.4 per contest. His average was the second-best mark in the NBA — behind Myles Turner — while his total of 161 was just 34 shy of what the Cleveland Cavaliers' entire team recorded last season. He's projected to be New York's starting center and could very well notch more blocks than an entire NBA franchise if he remains healthy. Imagine that.

Three storylines

1. Kyrie Irving's trial run: Irving is helping kick off the new era of Brooklyn Nets basketball, but he'll have to do it without injured co-star Kevin Durant. Can Irving thrive in a leadership role on yet another young team?

2. The Kawhi-less Raptors: Many are counting out the Raptors now that they've lost 2019 NBA Finals MVP Leonard to the Clippers. How will they respond to sceptics as the defending champs?

3. Markelle Fultz's development: The 76ers traded Fultz, but the Orlando Magic are confident he can still become a valuable contributor on an NBA team. Will he put together a complete season?

Prediction

1. 76ers*
2. Bucks
3. Raptors
4. Celtics
5. Heat 
6. Nets
7. Pacers
8. Magic
9. Pistons
10. Hawks
11. Bulls
12. Wizards
13. Hornets
14. Cavaliers
15. Knicks

*NBA Finals representative

Ben Simmons conceded he is "not a great shooter", but the Philadelphia 76ers guard feels his other strengths make up for that.

Coming into this season Simmons is 0 for 17 from beyond the arc in his career, but last week he hit a three-pointer in a preseason game against Guangzhou.

"I am confident to say I am not a great shooter," Simmons told reporters.

"I am getting better, though. It is a game. It is five people on the court. I lack something that I am not that great at, but other areas I am very great at.

"I run the floor as well as anybody. Physically, I can rebound the ball at 6-10. As a point guard, I can guard 'one' through 'five'. That is one thing that is coming into my game which I am excited about. I love getting better; I love spending time in the gym and building that confidence."

But while he has struggled with his shooting previously, Simmons has been seen repeatedly making shots in practice and plans to make it a part of his game this season - at least more so than he did over his first two NBA seasons.

"It is something I have been working toward getting better as a player, as you would do as a writer. Everybody works to get better," he added.

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