Carmelo Anthony sizzled in his first game with the Thunder, though Chris Paul and the Rockets look like they will be just fine without him.
Houston overcame Anthony’s 19 points in just 20 minutes and Paul George’s 15, spoiling their Oklahoma City debuts with a 104-97 victory on Tuesday night in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Paul had 11 points and seven assists in his Houston debut . The Rockets tried to acquire Anthony after getting Paul, but couldn’t work out a deal during their summer-long discussions with the New York Knicks, who instead dealt their leading scorer to Oklahoma City on the eve of training camp.
"Being happy out there on the court again, being excited, being motivated to be out there on the court again, it’s back for me," Anthony said. "That feeling is back for me."
But the Rockets, who had one of the NBA’s most potent offences last season, might not need the extra scoring. James Harden had 16 points and 10 assists, Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon scored 21 points, and the Rockets made 24 3-pointers . Gordon had six and Trevor Ariza hit five on his way to 18 points.
MVP Russell Westbrook didn’t play for Oklahoma City.
The Knicks played their first game without Anthony, losing to the Brooklyn Nets.
NETS 115, KNICKS 107
D’Angelo Russell scored 19 points in his Nets debut to help Brooklyn take the first of two preseason meetings between the city rivals.
Acquired in a trade with the Lakers, the former No. 2 pick started in the backcourt with Jeremy Lin, who struggled to a 2-for-9 night and scored eight points.
Enes Kanter, acquired from Oklahoma City in the Anthony trade, and Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 17 points for the Knicks.
NETS: Sean Kilpatrick scored 15 points. … Brooklyn was 16 for 32 (50 per cent) from 3-point range. … Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Joe Harris each scored 13 points. Spencer Dinwiddie and Quincy Acy had 12 apiece. … The Nets played without Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert because of ankle injuries.
KNICKS: Kristaps Porzingis scored 15 points. … First-round pick Frank Ntilikina of France came off the bench and scored five points on 1-for-7 shooting from the field. … Hardaway made five 3-pointers.
UP NEXT: Brooklyn (1-0) hosts Miami on Thursday. New York (0-1) visits Washington on Friday.
BULLS 113, PELICANS 109
Cristiano Felicio scored 15 points and the Bulls overcame a strong performance from the All-Star tandem of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins in New Orleans.
Davis had 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Cousins added 20 points and 10 boards.
BULLS: Nikola Mirotic and Justin Holiday each scored 14 points. … Rookie Lauri Markkanen, whose rights Chicago acquired when they traded Jimmy Butler to Minnesota, didn’t play because of back spasms. He is expected to miss the Bulls’ first two preseason games. … Denzel Valentine made four 3-pointers for his 12 points.
PELICANS: Rajon Rondo started against the team he played for last season and finished with five points, eight assists and four rebounds. … Davis and Cousins each played about 33 minutes, Rondo 31 and Jrue Holiday almost 30. Dante Cunningham was the only starter below 20 minutes. … Cunningham is starting in place of forward Solomon Hill, who is not expected back until February because of hamstring tear. … E’Twaun Moore scored 16 points.
UP NEXT: Chicago (1-0) visits Dallas on Wednesday. New Orleans (0-1) visits Oklahoma City on Friday.
SUNS 114, TRAIL BLAZERS 112
TJ Warren scored 23 points and the Suns rallied with a 41-point fourth quarter in Portland.
Damian Lillard had 18 points for the Trail Blazers.
SUNS: No. 4 overall selection Josh Jackson scored 14 points. … Devin Booker had 19 points. … Alex Len finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
TRAIL BLAZERS: Rookie Caleb Swanigan scored 18 points. Fellow rookie Zach Collins was limited to five points but had a team-high eight rebounds. … Jusuf Nurkic had 16 points. … CJ McCollum shot just 4 for 13 for his 10 points.
UP NEXT: Phoenix (1-0) visits Utah on Friday. Portland (0-1) hosts Toronto on Thursday.