Whiteside powers Heat to season-opening win

Retaining fifth-year center Hassan Whiteside was a major priority for the Miami Heat last summer.

Whiteside, an emerging star, showed why it was so important for the Heat keep him as the cornerstone of their rebuilding during Wednesday night’s season opener. The 7-footer dominated the paint in helping deliver a 108-96 win in Miami’s first game without perennial All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

He led the Heat with 18 points, 14 rebounds and four blocked shots. It was a statement night even if that wasn’t Whiteside’s intention.

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Turner’s opening act leads Pacers past Mavs, 130-121 in OT

Myles Turner walked onto center stage Wednesday night — and looked as comfortable in his starring role.

The Indiana Pacers second-year center scored 30 points, tied his career high with 16 rebounds, blocked four shots and made a 3-pointer in overtime that started the decisive 8-0 run in his first opening night start.

If Turner keeps this up, the Pacers could be celebrating a lot more than just a 130-121 season-opening victory over the Dallas Mavericks.

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Thomas scores 25, Celtics fight off Nets 122-117

With 2:31 left to play, Brooklyn’s Trevor Booker made a layup to cut the Celtics’ lead to 10 points and Boston coach Brad Stevens pointed at his resting starters and told them to get back on the floor.

The Nets had erased most of a 23-point deficit against the Boston backups, and they would make it an eight-point game before Stevens got his first team back in.

Isaiah Thomas had 25 points and nine assists, Jae Crowder added 21 points andAl Horford pitched in 11 in his Boston debut for the Celtics.

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DeRozan’s 40 leads Raptors to 109-91 win over Pistons

DeMar DeRozan had clearly been itching for the start of the regular season. Like so many other veterans, he had to grind his way through exhibition games in training camp, gradually moving from 11 points in his first preseason game, to 15, to 20 and finally to 34 in the final warm-up game last week.

His patience was rewarded Wednesday night as the Olympic gold medalist had 40 points in the Toronto Raptors‘ 109-91 season-opening victory over theDetroit Pistons, his third career 40-point outing and just two off his career high.

DeRozan made a career-high 17 field goals on 27 shots and was a perfect 6 for 6 from the free throw line, while Jonas Valanciunas was 10 for 15 from the field to go along with 11 rebounds. Valanciunas’ previous career high was 31, also against the Pistons, on Jan. 12, 2015.

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Kidd-Gilchrist, Hibbert help Hornets beat Bucks 107-96

The Charlotte Hornets turned up the pressure on theMilwaukee Bucks from the outset of their season opener.

Nicholas Batum disrupted the Bucks on the perimeter. Center Roy Hibbert had his teammates’ backs in the paint.

The defense helped Charlotte build a big early lead, and Michael Kidd-Gilchristhad 23 points and 14 rebounds in his return from a shoulder injury in the 107-96 victory over Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

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Conley, Gasol lead Grizzlies over Timberwolves 102-98

The David Fizdale era as Memphis coach didn’t get off to a glowing start.

The end of his opening night was much more enjoyable.

The Grizzlies climbed out of a 16-1 hole, put together 16 straight points early in the second half and beat Minnesota 102-98 on Wednesday night, spoiling Tom Thibodeau’s debut as Timberwolves coach.

Memphis, which still trailed with 1:45 remaining, closed the game on an 11-5 run to seal the win for Fizdale, the former Miami Heat assistant who was hired to replace Dave Joerger in the offseason.

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Nuggets overcome huge night from Anthony Davis to beat Pelicans

Denver coach Mike Malone decided the Nuggets should not, in fact, do whatever it takes to stop Anthony Davis.

Instead, the Nuggets stuck to their usual defensive principles against thePelicans, and it paid off — barely.

Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, Will Barton added 22 and the Nuggets survived a dominant performance by Davis to defeat the Pelicans 107-102 in both teams’ regular-season opener on Wednesday night.

Davis wound up with 50 points, 16 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and four blocks. His prolific play helped New Orleans trim a deficit as large as 14 late in the second quarter down to two points in the waning minutes.

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Westbrook, Thunder spoil Embiid’s debut for 76ers

Photo published for Russell Westbrook keeps calm and the Thunder carry on

The Philadelphia 76ers told a national anthem singer and amiddle finger-flipping fan to hit the road.

Russell Westbrook then sent the Sixers packing with a loss and showed life without Kevin Durant might not be so bad for Oklahoma City.

Westbrook stared down a double bird and spoiled Joel Embiid‘s debut with 32 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Thunder to a 103-97 victory on Wednesday night.

Westbrook’s surge down the stretch capped a peculiar night in Philly.

The 76ers had a tripleheader of image faux pas on opening night: The scheduled anthem singer says she was booted because she wanted to wear a “We Matter” jersey; a fan was kicked out for extending two middle fingers at Westbrook; and halftime singer Desiigner was booed off the court for a shirtless performance where he dropped his pants past his rear.

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Cousins, Gay lead Kings past young Suns 113-94

Dave Joerger is off to a winning start with the Sacramento Kings.

The Kings gave the former Memphis coach a 113-94 season-opening victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night, led by 24 points from DeMarcus Cousins and 22 from Rudy Gay.

The Kings won an opener for the first time in three years and gave Joerger a victory in his Sacramento debut.

The Kings used an 18-1 run from its second unit to take control in the first half and was up by as many as 26 points in the third quarter.

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Young Lakers roar past Rockets 120-114 to win Walton’s debut

Before his official head coaching debut, Luke Walton cautioned the Los Angeles Lakers about the long, difficult road from the start of this rebuilding season to sustained success.

Although these young Lakers won’t be judged by wins and losses, their first victory together still felt awfully sweet.

Jordan Clarkson scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers held off the Houston Rockets 120-114 on Wednesday night to win Walton’s debut.

D’Angelo Russell scored 20 points and Julius Randle added 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Lakers got off to an exciting start in the franchise’s first season without Kobe Bryant since 1995. With a revamped roster coming off the worst season in the 16-time champion team’s history, Los Angeles surged in the fourth quarter while the Rockets tired.

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