MIAMI — There is no NBA mandate urging teams to not rest players in the preseason.
The dog days of the exhibition schedule have arrived, with plenty of stars sitting out Monday night’s games. Among those getting the night off to rest: Boston stars Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Al Horford; Miami’s Goran Dragic; and the Orlando trio of Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon and Bismack Biyombo. Indiana rested a half-dozen players, as did Sacramento — including Vince Carter, George Hill and Zach Randolph.
"It’s hard to play 14 guys," Kings coach Dave Joerger said.
Houston’s Chris Paul didn’t play in New York because of a right shoulder contusion, the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis (hip) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) sat out that same game with soreness, Detroit’s Avery Bradley was sidelined by a turned ankle and Orlando’s Evan Fournier (ankle) and Terrence Ross (hamstring) also didn’t play because of minor injuries. Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox was out with a sore back.
When the regular season starts next week, resting players who are healthy enough to play will be officially frowned upon by a new NBA policy. But for now, it just makes sense for clubs to either limit minutes or not take unnecessary risks.
That being said, teams are still working. Joerger knows his team needs a day off — but the Kings are practicing Tuesday anyway.
"We have way too much stuff to do, and not just for opening night," Joerger said.
In Dragic’s case, Miami is being smart since he played for two months this summer, helping Slovenia win the European championship and returning to Miami just two days before the first practice of training camp. He hasn’t played much in the preseason.
"This is all relatively part of the plan I had sketched out," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "I wanted him to be in training camp … and he really wanted to be there too, just to establish the right tone out of camp. We want to try to strike that balance of keeping him in shape and making sure he’s peaking for the first game, not going the other way. I think we’re headed that way."
Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the lineup he went with Monday allows him to take a good look at what will be Boston’s second unit.
"I feel really good about where we are, considering we’re 13 days in," Stevens said. "I don’t think we’re by any means a finished product and I think we can get better."
ROCKETS 117, KNICKS 95
James Harden had 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, and Houston made 22 3-pointers while remaining unbeaten and keeping New York winless in the preseason.
The teams tried during the off-season to work out a trade for Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks ended up sending him to Oklahoma City, though the Rockets appear to still have plenty of firepower.
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 21 points for the Knicks.
ROCKETS: Houston has made at least 22 3-pointers in all three games. No team has ever had three straight games with 20 or more in the regular season. … Clint Capela had 19 points and nine rebounds, and Eric Gordon added 18 points. … Zhou Qi played three minutes, getting three points.
KNICKS: Michael Beasley scored 17 points before leaving with a bruised left elbow. He landed hard on a drive to the basket in the third quarter. … Damyean Dotson also had 17 for New York.
UP NEXT: Houston (3-0) visits Memphis on Wednesday. New York (0-4) hosts Washington on Friday.
PISTONS 107, PACERS 97
Detroit outscored Indiana 30-15 from the 3-point line, and had a 26-11 edge in points off turnovers.
Ish Smith, Reggie Jackson and Boban Marjanovic had 14 points apiece for the Pistons. Damien Wilkins led Indiana with 14 off the bench, shooting 5 for 6 and making both of his 3-point tries.
PACERS: Indiana led by 16 in the second quarter, but was outscored 71-47 in the final 25 minutes. … Myles Turner, Victor Oladipo, Domantas Sabonis and Lance Stephenson all didn’t play. … Al Jefferson had 12 points on 6 for 14 shooting.
PISTONS: Smith also had nine assists. … Detroit was plus-25 in Henry Ellenson’s 28 minutes. … Anthony Tolliver and Reggie Bullock each scored 12 for the Pistons.
UP NEXT: Indiana (2-1) hosts Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday. Detroit (2-1) visits Toronto on Tuesday.
CELTICS 113, 76ERS 96
Hours after Philadelphia and Joel Embiid agreed on a five-year extension worth $148 million, Boston had no trouble with the 76ers and led wire-to-wire.
Semi Ojeleye scored 16 for Boston, which led by as many as 34. Ben Simmons scored 15 for the 76ers, though he missed seven of his 10 free throws.
CELTICS: Aron Baynes sprained his left knee in the first half. … Jaylen Brown scored 12 for the Celtics, who got 15 apiece from Terry Rozier and Abdel Nader.
76ERS: Furkan Korkmaz scored 13 and No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz added 12. … The 76ers shot 28 per cent from 3-point range and 52 per cent from the foul line.
UP NEXT: Boston (3-0) visits Charlotte on Wednesday. Philadelphia (0-3) plays Brooklyn on Wednesday in Uniondale, New York.
HEAT 109, HORNETS 106
Justise Winslow’s layup with 23.7 seconds left put Miami ahead for good as the Heat rallied in the final minutes.
Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson each scored 18 for Miami, which got 13 from Dion Waiters and 11 points and 11 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside. Malik Monk scored 19 and Dwight Howard had 16 for Charlotte.
HORNETS: All-Star guard Kemba Walker left early in the third quarter after getting hit in the face, and Jeremy Lamb left with groin soreness. … Charlotte had a 29-14 edge in points off turnovers, but was 5 for 26 from 3-point range.
HEAT: James Johnson was called for a Flagrant-1 after a hard foul on Howard in the third quarter. The two slapped hands afterward, clearly without animosity. … The rookie learning curve for Bam Adebayo continued, after he had three fouls in three first-half minutes and the Heat were outscored by 10 in that stretch.
UP NEXT: Miami (2-2) hosts Washington on Wednesday. Charlotte (1-2) hosts Boston on Wednesday.
HAWKS 100, GRIZZLIES 88
Dennis Schroder scored 21 points to lead Atlanta, which got 15 from Malcolm Delaney.
James Ennis scored 14 to lead Memphis.
GRIZZLIES: Memphis was only 4 for 22 from 3-point range. … Marc Gasol had 13 rebounds.
HAWKS: Rookie John Collins got cut beneath his right eye, then returned and led the Hawks with eight rebounds. … Atlanta was plus-21 in DeAndre’ Bembry’s 20 minutes. … The game was at Georgia Tech because of renovations at the Hawks’ home arena.
UP NEXT: Memphis (2-1) hosts Houston on Wednesday. Atlanta (2-2) hosts Dallas on Thursday at Georgia Tech.
MAVERICKS 99, MAGIC 96
Dennis Smith Jr. scored 16 points, Harrison Barnes added 14 and Dirk Nowitzki added 10 for Dallas.
D.J. Augustin scored 24 points for the Magic, which got 19 from Jonathon Simmons.
MAGIC: Nikola Vucevic grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. … Augustin was 6 for 10 from 3-point range, and Mo Speights had 15 points after shooting 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.
MAVERICKS: Smith also had seven assists and six rebounds. … J.J. Barea was very effective, with eight points and nine rebounds. … Nowitzki made 4 of his 7 shots.
UP NEXT: Orlando (2-2) vists San Antonio on Tuesday. Dallas (3-1) visits Atlanta on Thursday at Georgia Tech.
JAZZ 120, SUNS 102
Ricky Rubio scored 20 points in only 15 first-half minutes, getting the rest of the night off as Utah rolled. The Jazz never trailed, and had a 28-point lead by the time the game was 21 minutes old.
Donovan Mitchell added 17 for the Jazz.
Devin Booker scored 19 for Phoenix, which got 18 more from Alex Len.
JAZZ: Rubio shot 8 for 10, plus had three steals. … Derrick Favors was plus-22 in 20 minutes, finishing with nine points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks in that little bit of work. … The Jazz used 17 players, and 16 scored.
SUNS: Josh Jackson scored 14 and Marquese Chriss added 13. … Eric Bledsoe handed out seven assists, but shot just 1 for 6. … Phoenix took 41 free throws to Utah’s 17.
UP NEXT: Utah (4-0) visits the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Phoenix (1-2) hosts Portland on Wednesday.
TRAIL BLAZERS 97, KINGS 83
Jusuf Nurkic scored 16 points to lead Portland. The Trail Blazers’ backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 26 points, on 7 for 21 shooting.
Justin Jackson had 16 for Sacramento, which was without several rotation players.
TRAIL BLAZERS: Caleb Swanigan had 12 rebounds, while Evan Turner and Jake Layman each scored 10 points. … Portland finished with a 48-39 rebounding edge.
KINGS: Frank Mason was impressive, with 13 points and five rebounds. … Skal Labissiere also scored 13 for Sacramento.
UP NEXT: Portland (3-1) visits Phoenix on Wednesday. Sacramento (1-3) visits the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday.