BOSTON — Jaylen Brown scored 24 points and Jayson Tatum added 16 as the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics opened under new coach Joe Mazzulla with a preseason 134-93 victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Sam Hauser finished with 14 points for Boston, connecting on 5 of 6 from the field, including four 3-pointers, part of the Celtics making 22 from outside the arc. Malcom Brogdon, picked up in a trade with Indiana, had 11 points.
Kelly Oubre Jr. led the Hornets with 17 points, while LaMelo Ball scored 14, albeit on 5 of 19 from the field. Ball also had seven rebounds and four assists. Terry Rozier finished with 11 points, and Jalen McDaniels had 10.
The Celtics returned to the court three months after coming within two wins of an unprecedented 18th NBA title. Since then, coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the entire season after allegations of an inappropriate relationship in the workplace.
36ERS 134, SUNS 124
Craig Randall scored 35 points and Robert Franks finished with 32 as Adelaide 36ers of Australia´s National Basketball League used their 3-point shooting for a win over the Phoenix Suns.
Randall, who played briefly at the University of Memphis and then at Tennessee-Martin before a stop in the G League, connected on 13 of 21 shots, including 9 of 17 from outside the arc.
Franks was 11 of 20 overall and 6 of 10 from 3-point range, part of the 36ers connecting on 24 of 43 from long distance.
Cameron Payne led the Suns with 23 points, while Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton added 22 apiece. Devin Booker had 13 points.
Chris Paul had 12 assists for the Suns, while Mitch McCarron had 16 assists for Adelaide.
The Suns, who had the best record in the NBA last season at 64-18, cut into the 36ers lead in the second half, but couldn’t overtake the visitors as Randall scored 24 points after halftime.
The 36ers got off to a fast start behind 3-point shooting in the first half. Adelaide built the first-half lead to as many as 16 by hitting 10 of its first 17 3-pointers.
Also of note, the 36ers normally play at the FIBA 3-point line, about 18 inches closer than the NBA´s.
The Suns were getting to the rim and dominating offensively with Bridges and Ayton. But trading baskets was not to Phoenix´s benefit. And Adelaide continued its 3-point shooting touch throughout the game, while the Suns were 9 of 34 from outside the arc.
RAPTORS 114, JAZZ 82
Chris Boucher scored 11 points and Precious Achiuwa added 10 to lead Toronto Raptors past Utah Jazz in Edmonton, Alberta.
Josh Jackson also had 10 points for the Raptors on 4-for-5 shooting from the field.
Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 20 points, and Collin Sexton and rookie Walker Kessler each contributed 11 points. Kessler, the No. 22 overall pick from Auburn, was 5 of 7 from the field in 13 minutes.
The Raptors’ starters played limited time, none of the first five logging more than 18 minutes.
The game was the first look at the changes for the Jazz, who traded key pieces like center Rudy Gobert, Royce O´Neale, Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic during the offseason. Even former coach Quin Snyder is gone, making way for Will Hardy.
Markkanen, one of several players who came from Cleveland in the trade for Mitchell, helped the Jazz stay within 50-49 at the half with 17 first-half points. But Toronto would outscore Utah 32-15 in the third quarter to take control.
ROCKETS 134, SPURS 96
Rookies Jabari Smith, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, and Tari Eason, the No. 17 selection, each scored 21 points Sunday night as Houston defeated San Antonio in the preseason opener for both teams.
Smith, a 6-foot-10 forward from Auburn, connected on 8 of 15 shots, including 5 of 8 from 3-point range over 24 minutes. Eason was 9 of 13 from the field. Josh Christopher added 15 points, and Eric Gordon and Alperen Sengun totaled 13 points each for the Rockets.
Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 13 points, and Isaiah Roby scored 12. Zach Collins finished with 11 and rookie Malaki Branham, the 20th overall pick from Ohio State, added 10 points, making all but one of his five shots, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said it was “fun to be part of” thw pre-season opening win over the Washington Wizards in Japan, despite a rusty performance from the NBA champions.
The Warriors beat the Wizards 96-87 in front of a packed arena in Saitama, north of Tokyo, in the NBA’s first overseas game since the pandemic began.