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Friday, Nov. 2, 2012

Kobe, star-studded Lakers fall to 0-2

AP

PORTLAND, Oregon — This was not the start the Los Angeles Lakers envisioned.

News photo
Dazzling debut: Houston's James Harden drives on Detroit's Greg Monroe in the first half on Wednesday night. Harden scored 37 points as the Rockets beat the Pistons 105-96. AP

The talent-laden Lakers have dropped two straight to open the season — their opener at home against the Dallas Mavericks followed by a 116-106 thumping by the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

To make matters worse, two-time MVP Steve Nash, brought in by the Lakers in the offseason along with six-time All-Star Dwight Howard, was injured late in the first half against Portland.

"We've got to learn how to play together," said Howard, who had 33 points and 14 rebounds in the loss to Portland. "You've got to be good before you can be great."

The Lakers' stockpile of stars lacked a sense of urgency against the Blazers, who led by as many as 19 points. Nicolas Batum had 26 points and Damian Lillard, the sixth overall pick in the June draft, had 22 points and 11 assists in his NBA debut.

Kobe Bryant had 30 points and Howard's output Wednesday night was a vast improvement over his debut the night before against the Mavs, when he had 19 points and 10 rebounds but made just three of 14 free throws before fouling out. Los Angeles lost that one 99-91.

But it was apparent for the second night in a row that the Lakers were still getting used to each other. The starters rarely played together during an 0-8 preseason.

"We didn't expect to just come together and be awesome," Howard said. "It's always a process. We've got to stick with it so that at the end of the year we can have a trophy."

Nash collided with Lillard and limped to the locker room. Although the team initially reported he was fine, Nash struggled when he returned for the second half and left the game for good a short time later.

The team said he had a bruised left leg. He said after the game he hopes to play Friday when the Lakers host the Clippers.

"We're not sharp," Nash said. "I think the guys are trying, we just didn't live up to what we're trying to do."

The Blazers, who finished 28-38 last season and out of the playoffs, opened their season with eight newcomers on the roster after an offseason rebuilding effort around All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Batum.

"People probably didn't expect us to come out and beat that type of team, but we've been competing very hard in practice, and we did that same thing tonight," Lillard said. "We were flying around, lots of energy. I think our activity kind of wore on them."

Rockets 105, Pistons 96

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, James Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in a stirring debut for Houston, and Carlos Delfino made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Rockets to a victory.

Detroit led 83-72 early in the fourth, but Harden and Delfino brought the Rockets back. Houston acquired Harden on Saturday night in a trade with Oklahoma City and agreed Wednesday on a five-year, $80 million contract extension with him.

The reigning Sixth Man of the Year certainly looked worth it in the season opener. Harden fell just short of his career high of 40 points, and his 12 assists were a career best.

Jeremy Lin added 12 points, eight assists and four steals in his first game with the Rockets.

Clippers 101, Grizzlies 92

In Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford scored 29 points in 30 minutes in his first official game with his new team, and the Clippers converted 21 turnovers into 29 points in a victory that extended the Grizzlies' NBA-record streak of opening-night losses to 12.

Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, who had 12 assists, were among six L.A. players to score in double figures. The Clippers are 20-23 in season openers, 12-17 since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles in 1984.

Pacers 90, Raptors 88

In Toronto, George Hill scored the go-ahead basket with two seconds left, completing Indiana's rally for a season-opening win over the Raptors.

David West scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and Paul George had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Pacers, who trailed 84-74 with just under six minutes left. Roy Hibbert added 14 points for Indiana.

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 21 points.

Spurs 99, Hornets 95

In New Orleans, Tim Duncan scored 24 points, Tony Parker hit a huge 3-pointer, and San Antonio opened the season with a victory over the Hornets in the debut for top draft pick Anthony Davis.

Davis scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, a promising start for the player who spent only one year at Kentucky, leading the Wildcats to the national title.

Bulls 93, Kings 87

In Chicago, Joakim Noah scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Bulls got off to a good start without Derrick Rose, beating the Kings in the season opener.

76ers 84, Nuggets 75

In Philadelphia, Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead the 76ers to a win over the Nuggets.

Jazz 113, Mavericks 94

In Salt Lake City, Mo Williams and Marvin Williams each scored 21 points to lead the Jazz to a victory over Dallas.

Warriors 87, Suns 85

In Phoenix, Carl Landry scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and Golden State overcame an awful post-contract night by Stephen Curry to beat the Suns in the teams' season opener.

Curry, who earlier in the day agreed to a four-year, $44 million extension with the Warriors, missed his first 10 shots from the field and wound up 2 of 14 with five points. He missed two free throws with 4.4 seconds left to allow the Suns a chance at a game-winning shot, but Sebastian Telfair's 3-point attempt came after the buzzer, and misfired anyway.



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