Basketball / NBA

Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura notches double-double in NBA debut

AP, Kyodo, Staff Report

Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura notched a double-double in his NBA regular-season debut on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

But another highly anticipated debut — reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic pairing up Dallas newcomer Kristaps Porzingis — proved too much for the Wizards to handle in a 108-100 loss.

Doncic scored 34 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Porzingis finished off his 23 points with the game-sealing dunk in the final minute.

Hachimura’s first NBA bucket came on a strong baseline drive to the rim in which he bodied Dallas big man Maxi Kleber to create space and laid the ball up softly with his left hand with 9:24 to play in the first quarter.

It was his first of 14 points on the night, recorded on 7-for-15 from the floor. He went 0-for-3 from behind 3-point range, but did hit two long jumpers from the top of the key.

The rest of his points came around the rim where he showed off the strength that many thought made him so NBA-ready.

Hachimura grabbed 10 rebounds — four on the offensive end — and finished with just two fouls despite getting them both in the first quarter, forcing coach Scott Brooks to protect him on the bench and limit him to 25 minutes in the game.

The first Japanese-born player drafted in the first round (No. 9 overall), Hachimura scored six points in the first quarter.

“We lost the game. This is just the beginning. It is what it is and we have two more other games (on this road trip), so I feel like we have to play defense more and offensively we have to share more balls and stuff,” the Gonzaga University product was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.

Speaking to reporters, Hachimura also described the game as “one of the best moments of my life.”

Washington coach Scott Brooks was impressed with Hachimura’s performance.

“He plays with so much poise, we are going to go on and on and on about all the great things that he does,” Brooks said. “He is a winner and he is going to continue to be that.”

The Wizards had cut a 23-point deficit going into the fourth quarter to seven when Doncic and Washington’s Bradley Beal were called for double technicals with 1:09 remaining. Beal was ejected when he was almost immediately whistled for a second technical.

Doncic missed the free throw and a 3-pointer, but the Mavericks kept the ball alive and Jalen Brunson found a cutting Porzingis for the slam.

Porzingis missed his first four shots before taking a break and coming back to score nine points in the final 2:45 of the first quarter. The 221-cm Latvian acquired in a blockbuster deal with the New York Knicks before the trading deadline last season was 7 of 16 from the field.

Doncic and Porzingis traded long 3-pointers throughout the game, finishing 7 of 16 between them (4 of 9 for Doncic, 3 of 7 for Porzingis). Doncic was 12 of 19 overall to help the Mavericks win their opener for the first time in four years.

The Slovenian guard could have played with Porzingis last season, but the Mavericks decided to let the 2018 All-Star continue recovering from a knee injury in what ended up being his final game for the Knicks 20 months ago.

Beal scored 19 points less than a week after the All-Star guard signed a $72 million, two-year extension that will go through the 2022-23 season.

Timberwolves 127, Nets 126 (OT)

In New York, Kyrie Irving scored 50 points in a record-setting Nets debut, but lost his balance and missed a potential winning shot that allowed Minnesota to pull out victory over Brooklyn in overtime.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 36 points and 14 rebounds for the Timberwolves, while Andrew Wiggins added 21 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:19 remaining.

Irving had the ball in his hands with a chance to cap his dazzling debut with a victory, following a Nets timeout. He ran the clock down and then began his drive, but lost his balance near the foul line. He retained his dribble, got up and shot, but his jumper missed.

After signing with the Nets in July, Irving broke Kiki Vandeweghe’s record for most points by a player in his first game with a team. Vandeweghe scored 47 points for Portland at Kansas City on Oct. 27, 1984.

Irving finished with eight rebounds and seven assists. Caris LeVert added 20 points.

Nuggets 108, Trail Blazers 100

In Portland, Nikola Jokic had 20 points and 13 rebounds despite sitting much of the first half because of foul trouble, and Denver spoiled the opening game of the Trail Blazers’ 50th season.

76ers 107, Celtics 93

In Philadelphia, Joel Embiid had 15 points and 13 rebounds, Ben Simmons scored 24 points and the 76ers beat Boston.

In Other Games

Heat 120, Grizzlies 101

Pistons 119, Pacers 110

Spurs 120, Knicks 111

Suns 124, Kings 95

Jazz 100, Thunder 95

Hornets 126, Bulls 125

Magic 94, Cavaliers 85