NBA Results Roundup (22 Oct 2019): Kawhi Leonard powers Clippers past Lakers; Raptors begin title defense with OT victory over Pelicans
Following an intense off-season in which several huge trades were completed, changing the landscape of the entire league, NBA action finally returned with two games on opening night.
#1 Toronto Raptors score 130 as VanVleet, Siakam star
The Raptors rode on huge performances from Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet to outlast the Pelicans in an absolute humdinger. Heading into this clash, all eyes were on Siakam, who was handed a monster contract extension in the off-season and is expected to be the future face of the franchise.
Siakam lived up to the pre-season hype as he ended with 34 points, 18 rebounds, and five assists, becoming only the second player since Charles Barkley to put up such a stat-line on opening night.
Siakam was ably supported by VanVleet, who had a career night himself. The point guard finished with 34 points, five rebounds and seven assists on 67% shooting from the field.
The game see-sawed for the most part, with both teams going on extended runs. The Pelicans built up a head of steam early on to take an 11-point lead in the first quarter. However, the defending champions hit back with an 11-point run of their own to claw their way back into the game.
The Pelicans went into half-time with a five-point advantage, but that quickly evaporated as the Raptors emerged from the break with renewed vigor. The final quarter witnessed both teams swell their lead to as many as four points, but there was no separating them at the buzzer, meaning the contest headed into overtime.
A couple of Kyle Lowry free throws, followed by a three each from VanVleet and Lowry kickstarted an 8-0 run for the Raptors, who finally managed to pull away from the Pelicans and seal a 130-122 victory in front of a boisterous home crowd.
The win is Toronto's seventh straight in regular-season openers.
Pelicans 122-130 Raptors (Siakam 34 points, 18 rebounds)
#2 Los Angeles Clippers' all-round effort neutralizes Anthony Davis performance
All the headlines ahead of this contest focused on the Lakers' All-Star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and how they would fare in their first competitive start together.
While Davis ended the night with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, LeBron put up in a fairly middling performance, managing just 18 points whilst committing five turnovers, including crucial ones in the final quarter.
Leonard, on the other hand, starred in his Clippers debut, pouring in 30 points to lead all scorers.
After getting off to a blistering start in which they built up a 13-2 lead, the Lakers found themselves struggling on offense as Patrick Beverley and co. turned up the intensity. The Lakers ended the first quarter with a three-point lead but that easily wiped out midway through the second period.
A monster second quarter from the Clippers saw them put up a whopping 40 points as they entered the break leading by 8. Leonard led all scorers at the intermission with 20 points, while LeBron and Davis had 14 and 18 respectively.
The Lakers knew they needed a spark from somewhere and Danny Green was the one who answered their call. Green went 6-6 in the third quarter, making all five of his three-point attempts to singlehandedly drag the Lakers back into the contest. With the teams tied at 85 heading into the final period, the game was poised on a knife-edge.
However, a poor fourth-quarter display from the visitors - LeBron managed just 2 points, while Davis was held scoreless - allowed the Clippers to pull away and secure a 112-102 win in the end.
Los Angeles Lakers 102 - 112 Los Angeles Clippers (Leonard 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists)Published 23 Oct 2019, 11:27 IST