Basketball / NBA

Kawhi Leonard makes successful start with Raptors


Kawhi Leonard helped the Toronto Raptors extend their success in season-opening games.

Leonard had 24 points and 12 rebounds in his Toronto debut, Kyle Lowry scored 27 points and the Raptors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 116-104 on Wednesday night, extending their streak of opening-night victories to six.

“I felt good,” Leonard said. “I’m happy we came out and got a win. I came out of the game healthy, so it’s a win-win for me.”

Acquired from the Spurs in a July blockbuster that sent four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, Leonard was introduced to a thunderous ovation, the final Raptors starter to have his name announced to the capacity crowd of 19,915.

“It was great,” Leonard said. “They gave me some more energy.”

Leonard played 37 minutes in his first competitive game since January with the Spurs. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year was limited to nine games last season because of a quadriceps injury.

“It’s fun to watch, it’s fun to play with,” said guard Danny Green, who was traded to Toronto along with Leonard.

“I’m happy for him, that he’s playing again.”

Fred VanVleet scored 14 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Green 11 as the Raptors gave Nick Nurse a victory in his first game as head coach.

“It’s pretty cool,” Nurse said. “It’s good to get it done. It was a little bit nerve-wracking there toward the end.”

Lowry led Toronto with eight assists and shot 5-for-6 from 3-point range.

“Kyle was awesome tonight,” Nurse said.

Toronto is the first team since Miami from 2011 to 2016 to win six straight season openers.

Kevin Love scored 21 points and Cedi Osman had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavaliers.

“From the jump, our execution wasn’t there,” Love said.

Cleveland knocked Toronto out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, but faces a struggle this season now that former star LeBron James is with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Spurs 112, Timberwolves 108

In San Antonio, DeMar DeRozan responded to a trade he didn’t want with his usual boundless energy and fearless style in the fourth quarter.

Jimmy Butler hasn’t received a trade he’s requested, and turned in a similar performance for Minnesota.

DeRozan had 28 points in his Spurs debut, LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points and 19 rebounds and San Antonio overcame a 23-point performance by Butler in a matchup of teams coming off a tumultuous offseason.

“It was an extremely long summer for me, extremely long summer,” DeRozan said. “So, just to be in this moment, it feels good.”

DeRozan was dealt to Toronto after the Spurs responded to Leonard’s trade demands. The trade shocked DeRozan, but he has since warmed to the Spurs and San Antonio.

Minnesota is facing a similar trade demand from Butler, who has opted to play through it. Butler, who has told Minnesota that he will not re-sign with the team in the offseason, added seven rebounds and three assists in an active 31 minutes.

“I’ve got 81 games, baby, that’s all the matters,” Butler said when asked if he expects to remain with Minnesota.

Pelicans 131, Rockets 112

In Houston, Anthony Davis had 32 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, and Nikola Mirotic scored 30 points.

Davis added three blocks and three steals, Mirotic was 6 of 8 from 3-point range, and Julius Randle had 25 points off the bench.

Knicks 126, Hawks 107

In New York, Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 31 points, sparking the Knicks during their franchise-record, 49-point second quarter, and New York beat Atlanta in its first game under coach David Fizdale.

Bucks 113, Hornets 112

In Charlotte, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, and Milwaukee spoiled Charlotte’s celebration of 30 years of basketball.

Pacers 111, Grizzlies 83

In Indianapolis, seven Pacers scored in double figures in a rout of Memphis.

Grizzlies rookie Yuta Watanabe missed the team’s opener. The Kagawa Prefecture native was listed as inactive.

In Other Games

Pacers 111, Grizzlies 83

Pistons 103, Nets 100

Magic 104, Heat 101

Jazz 123, Kings 117

Suns 121, Mavericks 100

Nuggets 107, Clippers 98