NBA Results Roundup (24 Oct, Thursday): Giannis Antetokounmpo stars as Bucks defuse Rockets; Kawhi Leonard leads Clippers' blowout of Warriors
Golden State Warriors began their 2019/20 NBA campaign by welcoming Kawhi Leonard and his Los Angeles Clippers side to the Chase Centre. Meanwhile, all eyes were on Russell Westbrook as he made his Houston Rockets debut against the Milwaukee Bucks.
The only other game of the night featured a youthful Atlanta Hawks team, led by Trae Young, locking horns with the high-flying Detroit Pistons. Without further ado, let's get into the results from all the games of the day.
#1 Russell Westbrook debut overshadowed by Giannis Antetokounmpo performance
A monster performance from reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo helped the Milwaukee Bucks overcome a slow start and subdue the Houston Rockets. In a game that featured the league's last three MVPs, the Rockets were quick out of the blocks, racing away to a 17-5 lead.
The Bucks hit back late in the quarter, ut headed into the second period trailing by seven. That deficit swelled to as many as 16 in the second quarter, setting the Rockets on course to usher in their new era with a victory.
However, a blistering second-half performance tilted the scales in the Bucks' favor. Giannis took matters into his own hands, dragging his side back into the game with a 30-point triple-double. In the process, he became the first player since Oscar Robertson to post a 30-point triple-double on opening night.
Giannis guided the Bucks to a six-point lead, but Houston sensed their opportunity when the Bucks superstar fouled out of the game with over five minutes remaining.
However, key contributions from the Bucks' supporting cast, including Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova and Wesley Matthews coupled with Houston's struggles from beyond the arc meant the visitors held on for a thrilling victory.
Russell Westbrook impressed on his Houston debut, finishing with 24 points and 16 rebounds, and also hitting on three of his seven attempts from beyond the arc.
However, Houston - James Harden in particular - were ice-cold from three-point land, making just 16 of their 48 attempts.
Milwaukee Bucks 117-111 Houston Rockets (Giannis Antetokounmpo 30 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists)
#2 Derrick Rose impresses but Trae Young leads Atlanta Hawks past Detroit Pistons
The Atlanta Hawks entered this NBA season with renewed optimism following a 2018/19 campaign in which they managed just 29 wins. Despite their struggles last season, there was much hype surrounding 21-year-old Trae Young, who had a breakout campaign in 2018, although there were plenty who questioned how he would gel with rookies Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter.
Those questions were put to rest as Young delivered a fantastic 38-point, nine-assist performance to lead the Hawks to a winning start. 26 of those points came in the first half as Young helped the Hawks keep pace with the Pistons' free-scoring offense.
The teams entered the break with little to separate one another. However, The Pistons were coming off an energy-sapping victory over the Indiana Pacers, and, on the second night of a back-to-back, failed to maintain their intensity in the second half.
The Pistons had big contributions from Andre Drummond (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Derrick Rose (27 points) but ran out of steam in the second period where they were outscored 57-37.
For the Hawks, Hunter, who scored a late three to ice the game, finished with 14 points, while John Collins and Jabari Parker added 18 apiece.
Hawks 117-100 Pistons (Trae Young 38 points, nine assists)
#3 Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Patterson star as Clippers score 141 in Warriors blowout
For the first time since 2014, the Golden State Warriors had tempered expectations heading into the new season. With Kevin Durant heading to Brooklyn and Klay Thompson reportedly out for the entire season, the Warriors were far from favorites entering the new campaign.
Their season-opener provided evidence of just how long a road it's going to be for Steph Curry's side this season as they were systematically dismantled by Kawhi Leonard and his Clippers. The Clippers opened with a 14-0 run to silence the Warriors faithful and never looked back, taking an 11-point lead into half time.
The Warriors' past triumphs have come on the back of blistering third-quarter surges, but they were on the receiving end of one this time around, as the Clippers poured in 46 points in the third period to all but seal proceedings.
D'Angelo Russell and Curry both struggled on the night - Curry shot 18% from beyond the arc and committed eight turnovers while Russell made just six of his 16 FG attempts. For the Clippers, Leonard registered 20 points in just 21 minutes of action while Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Patterson, and Lou Williams combined for 60 points.
Clippers 141-Warriors 122 (Leonard 21 points, Patterson 20 points, Williams 22 points)