LeBron James returned and the Lakers beat his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers – but that was far from the only story this Friday night in the NBA.
Elsewhere, Nikola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets blew out Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks, the Miami Heat won again on a night they hoisted a banner for champion Olympian Bam Adebayo, there was a fascinating duel between two of the top five picks in Toronto and LaMarcus Aldridge reached a notable milestone for the Brooklyn Nets.
Here is a full round-up of the action.
Cleveland Cavaliers 101-113 Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James scored 26 points, Carmelo Anthony hit six 3-pointers and had 24 points and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped the Cleveland Cavaliers’ three-game winning streak with a 113-101 victory Friday night.
Russell Westbrook had 19 points and six rebounds to help the Lakers win for the third time in four games during their rocky start to the season. James and Anthony, the Lakers’ pair of 19-year NBA veterans, took control down the stretch, with Anthony hitting three 3-pointers.
James missed nine of his 10 3-point attempts, but had eight assists against his former team in his return from a two-game absence with a sore right ankle.
Rookie Evan Mobley led the Cavs with 23 points about two miles up Figueroa Street from the Galen Center, where he starred for Southern California last season.
Ricky Rubio scored 18 points, Lauri Markkanen added 17 and Darius Garland had 18 points and 11 assists in the third stop on Cleveland’s five-game trip.
Indiana Pacers 98-105 Brooklyn Nets
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, reaching 20,000 for his career, in Brooklyn’s victory over Indiana.
James Harden broke out of an early season slump with 29 points, and Kevin Durant added 22 to help the Nets improve to 3-3.
Aldridge became the 48th player in NBA history and the seventh active player to score 20,000 points.
Indiana dropped to 1-5 overall and 0-4 on the road despite 28 points from Torrey Craig. Chris Duarte added 19, Domantas Sabonis contributed 16 and Jeremy Lamb chipped in with 12.
The Nets started slowly against a Pacers team that was playing without Isaiah Jackson (hyperextended right knee) and former Net Caris LeVert (stress fracture in his lower back) and trailed by 16 after Craig knocked down an 11-foot jumper with 9:17 left in the second quarter. But Brooklyn finished the quarter with a 28-9 run to lead 58-55 at half-time. Harden scored 13 points in that stretch.
By the end of the third quarter, the advantage was stretched to 85-74, with Durant playing with a key role and from there the Nets never relinquished control. Aldridge added eight points in the third, mainly on mid-range jumpers – fitting, given that has been his bread-and-butter for most of his career.
Charlotte Hornets 99-114 Miami Heat
Miami was leading the NBA in scoring defense, Charlotte was leading in scoring offense. Defense won.
Jimmy Butler scored 32 points, Bam Adebayo had 26 points and 19 rebounds on the night his Olympic gold-medalist banner was unveiled and the Heat held on late to beat the Hornets 114-99 on Friday night.
Tyler Herro scored 26 points off the bench for Miami, which wasted most of a 26-point first-half lead. Duncan Robinson added 10 for Miami. The Heat out-rebounded Charlotte 60-37, and held the Hornets to 39% shooting.
Gordon Hayward scored 23 points and Miles Bridges had 22 for Charlotte. Kelly Oubre Jr. scored 17 points and Cody Martin had 15 for the Hornets, while reigning Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball struggled through a 2-for-14 night from the floor.
Charlotte whittled what had been a 26-point hole down to just an 84-75 deficit going into the fourth, and then clawed within six points early in the fourth. But a 7-0 Heat spurt made it 95-82, and Miami kept control the rest of the way.
Sacramento Kings 113-109 New Orleans Pelicans
De’Aaron Fox and a productive supporting cast have Sacramento Kings ruling the road early this season.
Fox scored 23 points, Richaun Holmes added 21 and the Kings beat the New Orleans Pelicans 113-109 on Friday night to win their second straight away from home and remain unbeaten away from Sacramento.
Harrison Barnes had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Buddy Hield scored 20 points for Sacramento, which has started the season with three road victories and two home losses.
Jonas Valanciunas had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Pelicans, who briefly led late in the third quarter before Hield scored six straight points to give the Kings the lead for good.
Brandon Ingram had 22 points and Devonte’ Graham added 16. Graham’s fourth three pulled the Pelicans to 107-104 with 23 seconds to go. But the Pelicans had to start fouling early in Kings possessions after that, and Sacramento made went 6 of 6 from the foul line to close it out.
Playing without star forward Zion Williamson, who is recovering from offseason foot surgery, the Pelicans have now dropped five of their first six games.
Los Angeles Clippers 92-111 Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard scored 25 points and the Portland Trail Blazers extracted some revenge for a loss earlier this week to the Los Angeles Clippers with a 111-92 victory on Friday night.
Jusuf Nurkic added 14 points and 17 rebounds for the Blazers, who snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Clippers.
Paul George, who had 41 points earlier this season against Memphis, had 42 against the Blazers, just six shy of his career-high.
Portland led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter but the Clippers closed within 76-67 heading into the final quarter.
George’s off-balance jumper pulled Los Angeles as close as 82-78, but Nurkic and Anfernee Simons answered with baskets for Portland. It avenged a loss on Monday night in Los Angeles that was marked by 30 Portland turnovers. It was the Clippers’ lone win through their first five games of the season.
Dallas Mavericks 75-106 Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic had 11 points and 16 rebounds on a bruised right knee, Will Barton added 17 points and the Denver Nuggets routed the Dallas Mavericks 106-75 on Friday night.
Jokic was a game-time decision after hurting his knee Tuesday in Utah. The reigning NBA MVP was on the court well before tip-off and nailing jumper after jumper.
It was a sign of things to come as he helped the Nuggets snap a two-game skid. Jokic was an efficient 5 of 9 from the floor. He also had eight assists. Jokic’s night was done early with the Nuggets comfortably up by 31 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Luka Doncic scored 16 for the Mavericks, who were playing for a second straight night after beating San Antonio at home Thursday.
Leading 64-50 early in the third, the Nuggets went on an 11-0 run – aided by 3-pointers from Barton, Aaron Gordon and Jokic – to take control. They outscored Dallas 33-12 in the third quarter which allowed them to rest some starters during the fourth.
Orlando Magic 109-110 Toronto Raptors
Scottie Barnes edged out fellow rookie Jalen Suggs in a showdown between top-five picks in Toronto.
Fred VanVleet scored 16 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, Barnes had 21 points and the Raptors won back-to-back games for the first time this season, holding on to beat the Orlando Magic 110-109 on Friday night.
Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points and made a crucial defensive play on the final possession of the game. OG Anunoby scored 16, including 10 in the fourth, and Dalano Banton had 10 points as the Raptors evened their record at 3-3. Toronto beat Indiana on Wednesday.
Orlando’s Cole Anthony shot 5 for 6 from 3-point range and scored 24 points. Suggs had 21. Wendell Carter Jr. had 17 points and 12 rebounds. Mo Bamba added 14 points and 18 rebounds, but Orlando lost its ninth straight meeting with the Raptors.
Suggs made a pair of free throws to begin the fourth quarter, putting Orlando up 80-77, but Anunoby scored eight points as Toronto answered with a 13-0 run over the next three minutes to lead 90-80 with 8:37 to play.
Raptors fans chanted “Scottie’s better! Scottie’s better!” with Toronto leading in the final two minutes, but Suggs nearly showed otherwise, completing a four-point play with 52 seconds left to cut the gap to 100-106. After Suggs blocked Anunoby at the other end, Franz Wagner’s three made it a one-point game with 33 seconds left.
Anunoby missed from three, and Orlando called timeout with 5.8 seconds left. On the ensuing inbounds play, Trent knocked the ball away from Anthony, whose half-court shot at the buzzer fell short.