NBA opening night: Stephen Curry posts ‘trash’ triple double; Russell Westbrook flops in Lakers debut

The Golden State Warriors obtained their season began on a excessive observe with a 121-114 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers within the nightcap of the NBA’s season-opening doubleheader on Tuesday. Within the first sport, the Milwaukee Bucks regarded each bit just like the defending NBA champs with a 127-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 32 factors, 14 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. Kevin Durant posted 32 factors and 11 boards for the Nets, however together with James Harden was a minus-20 for the sport. 

For the Lakers, LeBron James (34) and Anthony Davis (33) mixed for 77 factors and regarded completely dominant in doing so, however no one else actually confirmed up. Russell Westbrook was terrible, which we’ll get to. For the Warriors, Stephen Curry admittedly “performed like trash,” as he so eloquently put it throughout his on-court postgame interview, however he nonetheless managed to document his first triple-double since 2016 with 21 factors, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. 

Listed here are the important thing takeaways from every sport.

The Warriors by no means give up

Golden State regarded type of terrible for a lot of the primary half. Each NBA team struggles by means of turnover stretches, particularly fast-paced ones, however when the Warriors begin fumbling the ball away they will look significantly pathetic by NBA requirements. You’d actually suppose the ball has grease on it. 

As talked about above, Curry could not purchase a bucket. He completed 5 for 21 from the sector and a couple of for 8 from 3; he missed a dunk for unhealthy measure. His 4 turnovers do not do justice to how shaky he was with the ball, although he did make some very nice passes. He made unusual choices, like opting to problem Anthony Davis on the rim somewhat than pull up for 3 when he appeared to have the area and rhythm to take action. He had his shot blocked a number of occasions on driving makes an attempt he is normally capable of end, or at the very least get onto the glass with some english. He missed quick jumpers. 

However I am right here to let you know: Curry and the Warriors don’t give up. Ever. They do not get down on themselves. They do not lose confidence. They simply hold enjoying. Preserve defending. Preserve capturing. That has been a attribute of this crew beneath Curry’s management relationship again to the Mark Jackson period, and it confirmed up once more on Tuesday. They hung round lengthy sufficient to get scorching, and as soon as they did, they by no means cooled again off. That could be a profitable trait, backside line. 

Nemanja Bjelica was lights out, finshing with 15 factors, 11 rebounds and 4 assists on 6-for-7 capturing; he was a game-high plus-23 and regarded like he’d been enjoying with Curry and Draymond Inexperienced his total profession. As a lot as Kelly Oubre had no thought the place to be inside Curry’s gravity final season, Bjelica floated to open area with ease and made performs off the dribble out of Curry double groups. 

Jordan Poole notched 20 factors and hit 4 3s. That man is an official downside. 

Russell Westbrook … yikes

Westbrook was depressing in his Lakers debut, which, to be frank, wasn’t all that shocking. Did you suppose he was going to come back out of the gates drilling jumpers? Westbrook completed with eight factors on 4-of-13 capturing, together with 0 for 4 from 3. He did not get to the free-throw line as soon as. He had as many turnovers (4) as assists. In his 35 minutes on the court docket, the Lakers have been outscored by 23 factors. 

Westbrook is not going to be this unhealthy each sport, clearly. However each sport he will current the identical downside: He is virtually nugatory off the ball as a result of he cannot shoot a lick, and but you possibly can’t let him management the ball as a result of his off-the-dribble capturing is borderline damaging to an offense. And in addition there’s this LeBron James man who’s fairly good. He’ll have the ball in his fingers fairly a bit. 

One lineup resolution that would appear somewhat apparent: Can Frank Vogel please chorus from enjoying Westbrook and Rajon Rondo collectively when LeBron is sitting? I imply there are unhealthy capturing/defensive backcourts, after which there’s that duo. Hopefully this experiment was only a first-game-of-the-season factor for Vogel, however I type of doubt it. My guess is we’ll see these two enjoying on the identical time deep sufficient into the season to drive Lakers followers clinically insane. 

LeBron and AD stay superior

As said above, they mixed for 77 factors. They each chipped in 11 rebounds. LeBron made 5 3-pointers and all evening lengthy had me questioning why on the earth I ranked Kevin Durant as the very best participant within the league this season. LeBron nonetheless has it, man. This man is Tom Brady ridiculous. Simply when he loses a few of his potential to energy by means of layers of defenders on his approach to the rim, he begins changing into an ice-cold pull-up jump-shooter. 

Have a look at the freaking man getting it achieved on each ends in 12 months 19:

Come on, man. 

How about this defensive rotation:


Giannis’ passing and free-throw capturing

There was loads to like about Antetokounmpo’s efficiency, however I’ll deal with two features particularly: His free-throw capturing and his passing. First the free throws: Giannis went 7 for 9 from the road. Relationship again to Milwaukee’s title-clinching victory over the Suns in Recreation 6 of final season’s Finals, Giannis is now 24 for his final 28 from the charity stripe in video games that depend. 

Giannis shot simply 58 p.c within the preseason, however contemplate the pattern dimension (he was 7 for 12). Giannis is taking only one dribble now as a part of a minimalist free-throw routine, now not flirting with a 10-second name, and he seems extra in rhythm and considerably much less in his personal head. If he’s going to make upwards of 70 p.c of his free throws this season, good luck stopping him. 

As for the passing, Giannis was beautiful on Tuesday. Each season the sport appears to decelerate a bit extra for him. Have a look at the endurance to let this play develop as when he catches the ball on the free-throw line and is instantly swarmed, which may have, and prior to now would have, sped him up. 

Right here he’s doing work in transition. Within the first two clips, you may see Giannis simply may’ve simply pressured his approach to the rim with a full head of steam, however as an alternative he calmly lets the ground area, and as a number of defenders inevitably converge on him, he finds shooters. 

On that remaining play, did you see how rapidly Giannis discovered Grayson Allen trailing in transition? Being affected person does not imply being sluggish. He is seeing the move and making it at exactly the best time. Under he does it once more, this day out of the put up, the place he once more was poised all evening as he waited for double groups to open up shooters. 

Giannis did not get the help right here, however take a look at this dime from out of jail on the baseline:

Take notes, Ben Simmons. That is what it seems like when a participant — who can also’t shoot — really will get higher at different features of his sport yearly. Additionally, Giannis has gotten manner higher as a shooter. He has an trustworthy face-up sport now and confirmed it in small samples on Tuesday. He continues to construct on his 3-point sport with out forcing it. What a superb participant. 

Bucks protection at rim

Briefly, it was superior. Brook Lopez balanced and timed his drop protection completely, at occasions displaying on the stage of ball screens to discourage the pull-up 3 earlier than retreating to guard the lob move, and he contested with textbook verticality, blocking three pictures. A type of blocks led to one of many Giannis transition assists you noticed above. 

Here is Giannis rotating for the monster block on Nic Claxton:

And the way about one other of Giannis’ early-offense assists being arrange by a block on the rim, this one by Jordan Nwora, who was terrific on each ends with 15 factors and 6 rebounds on 3-of-6 3-point capturing.

Not solely did the Bucks flip the ball over simply eight occasions, which led to solely two Brooklyn factors — however in addition they turned Brooklyn’s 13 turnovers into 22 factors on their finish. Whenever you win the points-off-turnovers battle by 20, you are going to win most video games. 

Shout out to Patty Mills

Mills was en fuego for the Nets, ending with 21 factors on an ideal 7-for-7 displaying from 3. Per Nets PR, that ties the NBA document for many 3-pointers in a debut with a brand new crew, and most 3-pointers off the bench in Nets historical past. Who wants Kyrie? | NBA opening evening: Stephen Curry posts ‘trash’ triple double; Russell Westbrook flops in Lakers debut


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