Scrappy home start
LeBron's anticipated debuts as a Laker -- preseason, away and home -- are in the books. And the debut at Staples Center was indeed eventful, and not just because of LeBron's 24 points, five rebounds and five assists.
A fight erupted late in the fourth quarter and three players -- Brandon Ingram, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul -- were ejected and probably face suspensions because of punches thrown.
The scrum, which started after a James Harden drive resulted in a foul and confrontation between Rondo and Paul, overshadowed the outcome of the game. For the record, Harden poured in 36 points and Paul added 28 to lead the Rockets past the Lakers 124-115.
Having faced two playoff teams in the West, the Lakers are 0-2 in the LeBron era and are struggling to find their footing.
The festivities started peacefully enough with LeBron's introduction.
LeBron looked forward to an old, familiar matchup with Carmelo Anthony, an offseason addition to the Rockets. Anthony came off the bench in the Rockets' win, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring seven points.
LeBron will play Carmelo in his Lakers home opener tonight.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 20, 2018
15 years ago they matched up as rookies, in LeBron's first NBA game in Cleveland. pic.twitter.com/v9ktStFXNX
Dead solid perfect
The Nuggets' Nikola Jokic seems intent on earning his reported five-year, $148 million max deal, signed this summer. Jokic turned in a historic performance in Denver's 119-91 win over the Phoenix Suns, shooting a perfect 11-for-11 from the field and notching a triple-double of 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.
Jokic joins some rarefied company, becoming the first player to shoot perfect from the field with a 30-point triple-double since Wilt Chamberlain in 1967.
The Heat crowd showed some warmth for three-time champion and 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade in his last home opener. Wade, in his 16th campaign, has said this will be his final season.
Wade acquitted himself well, scoring 21 points in 25 minutes off the bench. His second-chance lay-in with 12.3 seconds remaining tied the game at 112-112, but Kemba Walker's free throw with 0.5 seconds left sealed the 113-112 win for the Hornets.
Unable to finish
Young Sixers star Ben Simmons left the game versus the Magic with back tightness and did not return. And Knicks rookie Kevin Knox turned his left ankle on a drive to the basket and had to be helped from the court. X-rays were negative but he did not return.
Kevin Knox was carried off the court due to a "left ankle injury" in the 1st quarter of tonights game. pic.twitter.com/516TwTmsFq— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 21, 2018
Redick to the rescue
With Simmons leaving in the first quarter, veteran J.J. Redick picks up the slack for the Sixers. The 34-year-old, in his 13th season, came off the bench to play 32 minutes, scoring 31 points and dishing four assists.
Big Nugget, little nugget
Denver's Isaiah Thomas likes to get his 5-year-old son Jaiden in on the act from time to time. So he let him work out a bit with the big boys before Denver hosted the Suns.
Kyle Lowry makes no bones about his friendship with DeMar DeRozan, now with the Spurs. Lowry, in a postgame interview with NBA TV, acknowledges that he still performs a ritual handshake with the air to honor DeRozan.
No back-to-backs for you
It's early in a long season, but it's never too soon for today's stars -- especially those coming off injury-marred seasons -- to sit out back-to-backs.
Kawhi Leonard got the night off vs. the Wizards after a solid performance Friday night, scoring 31 points with 10 rebounds in the Raptors' 113-101 win over the Boston Celtics. Leonard played only nine games for the Spurs last season because of a quadriceps injury.
Jimmy Butler, who played little for the Timberwolves during the preseason, sat out for "precautionary rest" against the Dallas Mavericks. Butler, who wants to be traded, was greeted with a chorus of boos in the home opener but drew chants of "M-V-P" while pouring in 31 points with seven rebounds in the Wolves' 131-123 victory over the Cavaliers.
The Celtics decided to sit Gordon Hayward for "left ankle recovery," after he performed well in Boston's first two games. Friday night, he had 14 points and seven rebounds in Boston's 113-101 loss to the Raptors. Hayward suffered a gruesome dislocated ankle and broken tibia on opening night of last season, but has worked his way back.
Kemba Walker became the first player in Charlotte franchise history to reach 10,000 career points. He netted 39 points with seven assists, and sank the game-winning free throw in the Hornets' 113-112 win over the Heat.
Walker also set a record for the most 3-pointers made during the first three games of a season with 19. He eclipsed Danilo Gallinari, who made 18 in 2009, and Stephen Curry, who buried 17 in 2015.
Bradley Beal, with 869, passed Gilbert Arenas for most 3-pointers made in Wizards' franchise history. Beal, who finished with 32 points to lead the Wizards in a 117-113 loss to the Raptors, hit six 3-pointers on the night.