NBA slate has some old, something new - a Simmons 3-pointer
By BRIAN MAHONEY
From Chris Paul in Oklahoma City to the Portland Trail Blazers back at Memorial Coliseum, the NBA schedule had the feel of something old on Tuesday.
And it had something new, with Ben Simmons making a 3-pointer for the first time as a pro.
Simmons' shot just before halftime was celebrated wildly in Philadelphia, where 76ers fans know they could have a championship contender if their All-Star point guard develops a reliable perimeter shot to complement all his other skills.
"I didn't hear the crowd," Simmons said. "I work every day and to me, it shows. I'm in the gym every day and I feel like it is paying off."
He finished with 21 points in the 76ers' 144-86 victory over Chinese opponent Guangzhou.
A seven-game schedule began in Japan, where the Toronto Raptors beat the Houston Rockets 134-129. They are playing two games this week at the Saitama Super Arena.
It also featured the first game in a Thunder uniform but not the first on the home team in Oklahoma City for Paul, who was traded from Houston in the deal that sent Russell Westbrook to the Rockets.
Paul spent his first two seasons in the city, winning Rookie of the Year in 2006, while the New Orleans Hornets played home games in Oklahoma City as their home recovered from Hurricane Katrina.
Paul had six points and four assists in 17 minutes of the Thunder's 119-104 victory over Dallas, which rested Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Portland and Denver began their preseason schedules in the Trail Blazers' original home. The game at Memorial Coliseum, where they spent 25 years, was part of the team's celebration of its 50th anniversary.
RAPTORS 134, ROCKETS 129
Pascal Siakam scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and the Raptors - in their first game since winning the NBA Finals - rallied from a 17-point deficit.
James Harden put on yet another dazzling offensive show, making his first six shots and finishing 11 for 14 from the field and scoring 34 points in 27 minutes.
His final points were a pair of free throws with 3:40 left in the third quarter that put Houston up 104-87. He checked out shortly afterward, and Toronto outscored Houston 47-25 the rest of the way.
Westbrook played for Houston for the first time, scoring 13 points in 21 minutes.
76ERS 144, GUANGZHOU 86
Simmons led seven Philadelphia players in double-digit scoring. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists.
Joel Embiid added 17 points, all in the first half, and Simmons had 19 points, five rebounds and seven assists at the break. Simmons' last 3-pointer was on Nov. 30, 2015, while at LSU.
Andrew Nicholson, picked 19th overall in the 2012 draft by Orlando, led Guangzhou with 36 points on 15-of-32 shooting.
HEAT 107, SPURS 89
Rookie Tyler Herro, the 13th selection in June's draft, scored 18 points, and Jimmy Butler added 10 in his preseason debut with Miami.
Miami closed the third quarter on a 13-0 run and used a 22-5 spurt in the fourth for a 90-69 lead.
NUGGETS 105, TRAIL BLAZERS 94
Portland topped Denver in Game 7 last season, before getting swept by the Golden State Warriors in the conference finals. The Trail Blazers and Nuggets will face off again to start the regular season on Oct. 23.
Zach Collins was the only Portland starter in double figures with 10 points.
GRIZZLIES 108, NEW ZEALAND 94
Grayson Allen and Jaren Jackson Jr., the fourth overall pick by Memphis in 2018, each scored 18 points. The Grizzlies' top selection in June, Ja Morant, had four points, five rebounds and 10 assists.
Corey Webster had 19 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks for New Zealand.
THUNDER 119, MAVERICKS 104
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 24 points, with four 3-pointers, in his debut and Steven Adams added 17 points for the Thunder. Paul had six points in 17 minutes.
Former Tar Heel Justin Jackson and German Maxi Kleber scored 14 points apiece for the Mavericks.
SUNS 111, TIMBERWOLVES 106
DeAndre Ayton had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Devin Booker added 15 points and five assists for the Suns. Ayton, who had 54 double-doubles last season, secured the feat in the first half as Phoenix led 56-54.
Karl-Anthony Towns paced Minnesota with 19 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds and AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston in Philadelphia contributed.
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Updated October 9, 2019