NBA

Dallas Mavericks spoil top draft pick Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut

By Sports Desk October 26, 2023

Luka Doncic played spoiler in number one draft pick Victor Wembanyama’s NBA debut as the Dallas Mavericks eclipsed the San Antonio Spurs 126-119.

After a solid start from the Spurs, the Mavericks were able to rally in the third quarter and hold on to their lead in the home stretch.

Doncic was central in Dallas’ third-quarter effort and finished with a 33-point triple-double.

Wembanyama had two threes in the opening quarter but was slowed by foul trouble until a fourth-quarter flourish lifted him to 15 points to go along with five rebounds.

New recruit Kristaps Porzingis played a pivotal role in seeing the Boston Celtics past the New York Knicks 108-104.

The former Knick combined with Jayson Tatum for 64 points, which included a tiebreaking three-pointer with 90 seconds left on the clock.

RJ Barrett scored 24 points for New York, while Immanuel Quickley added 24 off the bench.

Last season’s finalists the Miami Heat were pushed to their limit in a 103-102 win over the Detroit Pistons.

Miami looked to have victory all but sealed when they took a 19-point lead with nine minutes left.

Detroit were somehow able to claw their way back to within one, but ultimately fell short as Cade Cunningham missed a 30-foot jump shot at the buzzer.

It was also a close result in Brooklyn, where a late burst from Donovan Mitchell pushed the Cleveland Cavaliers past the Nets 114-113.

Mitchell scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, including a go-ahead three in the dying seconds.

A 25-point effort from PJ Washington helped the Charlotte Hornets down the Atlanta Hawks 116-110, and Zion Williamson scored 23 in the New Orleans Pelicans’ 111-104 win over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Elsewhere, the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers opened their seasons with double-digit victories, while the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Portland Trail Blazers and the Toronto Raptors scraped past the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-94 in a low-scoring affair.

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    In 2023-24, Bickerstaff helped direct Cleveland to a 48-34 record and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference play-offs.

    The Cavs then beat the Orlando Magic in the first round for the franchise's first play-off series win since the team lost to the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals. It also marked Cleveland's first trip to the conference semi-finals without LeBron James on the roster since 1992-93.

    The Cavs' season ended in the conference semis, where they lost to the NBA-best Boston Celtics in five games.

    Bickerstaff's team, however, was significantly undermanned with five-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell missing the final two games against the Celtics with a left calf strain and fellow All-Star Jarrett Allen missing the last eight play-off games due to a right rib contusion.

    "J.B. is a well-respected NBA coach and an incredible human-being," Cavaliers president of basketball operations Koby Altman said in a statement. "Over the past four years, he helped establish a culture that progressively drove players to become the best versions of themselves. Decisions like these are never easy, particularly when you look back at where this franchise rebuild started under his leadership. The NBA is a unique business that sometimes requires aggressive risk-taking to move a franchise forward and ultimately compete for championships. We owe a ton of gratitude for everything J.B. has contributed to the Cavaliers and his engagement in the Cleveland community. We wish J.B., his wife Nikki and their three children the best in their future endeavours."

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