Thursday 12 December, 2019

Oklahoma City spoil Dwight Howard's debut

Russell Westbrook.

Russell Westbrook.

It was close — for a quarter.

Dwight Howard's debut with the Washington Wizards had them within five points of the visiting Thunder after the first quarter. But, after that it was all the Oklahoma City Thunder, engineering one of their best halves ever since making the move from the Pacific Northwest in 2008-09.

The Thunder powered to a 134-111 victory behind a 79-point first half, tying their record for most points scored in a half. Russell Westbrook led the charge with a double-double, 23 points and 12 rebounds. He shot 10 of 16 from the field and hit three of his four 3-pointers. Jerami Grant pitched in a season-best 22 points and Paul George added 17. It's the team's fourth straight win.

Howard, 32, took the court with a single practice under his belt. He returned to practice Thursday after missing the team's first seven games with a strained muscle in his buttocks. Howard finished with 20 points behind Wizards leader Bradley Beal (27 points). Howard scored 13 of those points in the first quarter.

Paul, Oladipo shine in wins

Chris Paul powered the Houston Rockets to their second win of the season behind a 32-point night. Houston has struggled since defeating the Los Angeles Lakers and entered Barclays Center with four consecutive losses. But, a 119-111 win over the Brooklyn Nets stopped their losing streak. Paul finished the outing with a double-double after recording 11 assists.

Indiana Pacers guard Darren Collison might have cemented the win with a last-second jumper, but Victor Oladipo powered Indiana to a 107-105 win over the Chicago Bulls. He wasn't just hot on the offensive end though. Oladipo's 12 defensive rebounds gave him his first double-double of the season. He finished with 14 in total.

New York Knicks rookie Allonzo Trier came off the bench and scored a game-high 23 points in their 118-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks. He shot 75 percent from the floor, including one three-pointer and six made free throws.

Barren bench lacking magic

The Orlando Magic needed some help against the Los Angeles Clippers, but they didn't get it from their bench. Orlando's best sixth men were Mo Bamba and Terrence Ross, who each netted seven points. Bamba was three of six from the field and one of two from the line. Ross finished three of 10 and knocked down one 3-pointer. The Magic fell to 2-6 after the 120-95 loss to the Clippers.

Friday's results
Los Angeles Clippers 120-95 Orlando Magic
Houston Rockets 119-111 Brooklyn Nets
Oklahoma City Thunder 134-111 Washington Wizards
Indiana Pacers 107-105 Chicago Bulls
New York Knicks 118-106 Dallas Mavericks
Memphis Grizzlies 110-100 Utah Jazz
Toronto Raptors 107-98 Phoenix Suns
Golden State Warriors 116-99 Minnesota Timberwolves

Jazz at Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets are boasting their best start in more than four decades. Their 7-1 record is their best start since 1976-77 when they began the season 8-0.

Denver is hoping to continue its success when they host the Utah Jazz on Saturday.

The Jazz will come to Pepsi Center fresh off a 10-point loss to the Grizzlies, where they are looking to dismantle the streaking Nuggets. Denver has yet to lose a game at home and behind the efforts of Nikola Jokic, it doesn't seem like this team is slowing down any time soon. Utah will work with a lineup that includes Allen, who got his first NBA start Friday, and second-year star Donovan Mitchell.

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