John Wall is back for the first time in almost two years. DeMarcus Cousins played for the first time since the 2019 NBA Finals.
And the NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers are at home where no one can see.
The truncated 49-game, nine-day sprint – NBA preseason began Friday with a five-game slate, returning to the NBA fields for the first time in exactly nine months. Coaches have joined their new teams: Stephen Silas with Houston, Tom Thibodio with New York, Billy Donovan with Chicago and Tyrone Lou with the Los Angeles Clippers. Rookies, No. 4 pick Patrick Williams of the Bulls and No. 8 pick Obi Tobin of the Knicks, got their first NBA minutes.
In most buildings, at least to start the season, there is almost no one in these games. As the coronavirus epidemic continues and case numbers continue to rise, the era that began last season with the suspension on March 11 – the night that Utah’s Rudy Gobert positively tested – has re-opened the league and its teams with caution and security.
“It’s very different, for sure,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before his team faced the Clippers inside the very empty Staples Center.
Well, some things are different.
The coaches wore masks. Detroit showed old videos of actual fan interactions – with a previously taped denial – some time later. The bench seating areas are all empty, with no one next to each other.
The atmosphere in the arena is very different from what the guys are used to, ”said Orlando coach Steve Clifford. “ And I think playing these four show games will be one of the most valuable things. Like Bubble, we had to get used to a different-type environment and I think these four games will hopefully allow us to see what the regular season will be like even in these big areas. ” ‘
So, yes, it is very different.
Other things – like wall basket blasting – are common.
Wall’s first basket since December 2018 came into Houston’s first possession of the preseason when he came to the edge for an easy score on his Rockets debut, after recovering from heel and Achilles injuries.
The next basket of rockets? Wall set up Cousins for the 3-pointer, the center’s first basket since Game 6 in the 2019 finals with the Warriors, two months before he tore his ACL and missed last season.
NBA scoring champion James Harden is not playing for the Rockets, he has not yet cleared to get back on the ground with an untrained team and clearly does not want to be anymore. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who last appeared on the ground when the Lakers topped the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals at the Walt Disney World Bubble – were among the regulars who won the Champs Preseason Open two months ago.
There are seven more games on Saturday.
KNICKS 90, PISTONS 84
In Detroit, RJ Barrett scored 15 points, while Topin won their pre-season opener ని in their first season with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Julius Randall scored 11 for New York, while Elfrid Payton and Nerlens Noel scored 10 each.
SV Mykhilik and Sadiq Bay led the Pivins with 14 points. None of Detroit’s five starters _ all playing between 15 and 22 minutes _ reached double figures and they scored 8 for 34.
Magic 116, Hawks 112
In Atlanta, Nicola Vusevic had 18 points and 11 rebounds and a total of five Orlando starters reached double figures.
Dwayne Bacon added 14 points, Evan Fournier 13, Aaron Gordon 12, Mark Fultz 10 for Magic, who scored 10 off the bench from Michael Carter-Williams.
D’Andre Hunter scored 18 for Hawks, 14 points from John Collins and Danilo Gallinari, 14 rebounds from Clint Capella and 13 points from Cam Reddish. Trey Young scored just 2 for 9 for Atlanta.
Lakers 87, Clippers81
In Los Angeles, Talen Horton-Tucker scored 19 points and Kyle Kuzma 18 points for the Lakers.
Montreal Harrell had 13 points and 12 rebounds against his former team and Dennis Schroeder added 10 points for the Lakers. Paul George scored 10 for the Clippers, while poet Leonard scored three in 14 minutes.
Both teams scored exactly 30 runs for 84 from the field, and none of the Clippers starters even logged in 15 minutes.
Trail Blazers 127, Kings 102
In Portland, Carmelo Anthony had 21 points in 23 minutes for the Trail Blazers team, which had to close its practice facility the week before on coronavirus issues.
Harry Giles scored 18 points and 14 rebounds against his former team. CJ McCallum and Gary Trent Jr. also scored 18 runs each for the Blazers, while Damien Lillard 15, Derrick Jones Jr. 15 in his 6-off-7 shooting debut in Portland.
Buddy Hild scored 23 and Harrison Burns 16 for the Kings, who conceded 35 points in the first nine minutes. D’Aron Fox scored 10.
Rockets 125, Bulls 104
In Chicago, Wall had 13 points and nine assists in 19 minutes, leading the Rockets wire-to-wire.
He scored 17 points for Houston at the Bruston Caboc, which included 32 runs. Gerald Green and Eric Gordon each scored 16, Cousins 14 points in 15 minutes and Ben McLemore 10 for the Rockets. Turn off turnovers until the last moment.
Kobe White scored 15 for the Bulls. Larry Markenen 13 for Chicago, Williams 12 for his NBA debut, Noah Vonleh and Zach Lavin 12 each, and Thomas Satoransky 11.