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LOS ANGELES -- Kobe Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his season debut for the Lakers, but Amir Johnson scored a career-high 32 points in the trade-depleted Toronto Raptors' 106-94 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Bryant began his 18th NBA season by going 2 for 9 with four assists and eight turnovers in 28 minutes. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history hadn't played since tearing his Achilles tendon in April, undergoing several months of rehabilitation to return for Los Angeles' 20th game of the new season.
But the Lakers never led, and Toronto improbably snapped its five-game losing streak despite playing without forward Rudy Gay, who is expected to be traded to Sacramento on Monday as the centerpiece of an apparent seven-player deal.
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma City insisted there was no extra motivation playing against an Indiana team sporting the NBA's best record.
Kevin Durant certainly played like there was on Sunday night, scoring 36 points and grabbing 10 rebounds as the Thunder made quick work of the visiting Pacers with a 118-94 win.
What started as a matchup of NBA Finals' hopefuls quickly turned into a rout, with Oklahoma City leading by as many as 29 points in the first half before finishing with stars Durant and Russell Westbrook -- who added 26 points and 13 assists -- resting comfortably on the bench.
HOUSTON -- Dwight Howard was late for the pregame shootaround. So he knew that playing on his 28th birthday, and against his former team, the onus was on him to both atone and deliver.
Done and done.
Howard had 20 points and 22 rebounds Sunday night to lead the Houston Rockets over the Orlando Magic 98-88.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- LeBron James and Miami breezed through one big rematch.
Now the Heat can prepare for another.
James had 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds, and Miami routed Detroit 110-95 on Sunday, avenging a home loss to the Pistons less than a week ago.
The Toronto Raptors have agreed in principle on a deal that will send Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, multiple sources told ESPN. The deal is expected to be finalized on Monday.
The proposed deal involves seven players, with the Kings sending John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Chuck Hayes to Toronto in exchange for Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy. It was required to be a large trade to accommodate Gay's salary, which is more than $17 million this season.
Gay, Gray and Acy were all pulled from the Raptors' lineup Sunday in Los Angeles before playing the Lakers.
People used to hate Japeth Aguilar.
Perhaps hate is too harsh a word. People really, really disliked Japeth Aguilar. Either that or they were indifferent to him, this despite a flashy game with plenty of highlight reel-worthy dunks and rejections, plus a clutch of headlines that had his name constantly splashed across sports pages and websites.
The odd thing about the hate, or the dislike, or the indifference, is that it's hard to fault the actions of Japeth that resulted in all these negative emotions.
NEW YORK -- Another sizzling start for the Celtics, only this time they kept pouring it on.
By the time they were finished, they had battered the New York Knicks in the most lopsided NBA game this season.
Jordan Crawford made six 3-pointers and scored 23 points, and Boston won its third straight with a 114-73 victory on Sunday.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel was severely handicapped coming into Sunday’s game against three-time defending champion Talk ‘N Text.
The Gin Kings star backcourt of Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio were both battling illness, with the latter even having been confined before the game at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bonifacio Global City.
“May trangkaso ako eh,” Tenorio told InterAksyon.com. “Nagpalabas lang ako, pero babalik ako ng hospital. Nagpaalam lang ako kung pwede ako lumabas na maglaro lang kaso parang medyo mag-co-collapse na ako.
Dwight Howard had his own reasons for wanting to pay Kobe Bryant a visit in April, after the Los Angeles Lakers guard had ruptured his Achilles tendon. Whatever issues had come between the two stars, and whatever issues lie ahead, Howard knew firsthand how isolating and depressing it was to be stuck at home and confined to a bed after suffering a career-threatening injury.
A year earlier, he'd been in the same dark place. Holed up in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, Calif., after back surgery, waiting for a visitor, or even a text message, from someone -- anyone! -- to take his mind off the long road ahead. Occasionally a friend or family member came by. But none of his teammates ever did, and it hurt Howard deeply.
So the week after Bryant ruptured his Achilles, Howard and reserve guard Jodie Meeks paid Bryant a visit at his home in Newport Beach.
Japeth Aguilar scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds, and seven blocks, but even that impressive stat line couldn’t begin to tell the story of how huge his game was in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s victory over Talk ‘N Text on Sunday.
Playing against his former Tropang Texters’ teammates, Aguilar powered Ginebra to a comeback from a double-digit deficit, scoring 11 points in the fourth period. He made the game-winning three pointer with 1.1 seconds remaining before making the game-saving shotblock at the buzzer moments later.
For Aguilar, the game was about finally living up to the tantalizing potential he has shown for years, after he became the top overall pick in 2009.