It was close — for a quarter.
Dwight Howard’s debut with the Wizards put a struggling Washington team within five points of the visiting Thunder after the first quarter. But, after that it was all Oklahoma City, which engineered one of its 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.
Dwight Howard tallies 13 PTS in his first quarter of action for the @WashWizards! #DCFamily @ESPNNBA pic.twitter.com/9j9mRT6rQJ
Washington fell to 1-7 with the loss.
Studs of the night
Chris Paul powered the Rockets to their second win of the season behind a 32-point night. Houston has struggled since defeating the Lakers and entered Barclays Center with four consecutive losses. But, a 119-111 win over the Nets stopped their losing streak. Paul finished the outing with a double-double after recording 11 assists.
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 Chicago. He wasn’t just hot on offensive end though. Oladipo’s 12 defensive boards gave him his first double-double of the season. He finished with 14 total rebounds.
Knicks rookie Allonzo Trier came off the bench and scored a game-high 23 points in New York’s 118-106 win over Dallas. He shot 75 percent from the floor, including one 3-pointer and six made free throws.
Duds of the night
The Magic needed some help against the 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 3 of 6 from the field and 1 of 2 from the line. Ross finished 3 of 10 and knocked down one 3-pointer. The Magic fell to 2-6 after the 120-95 loss to the Clippers.
Rookie guard Grayson Allen gets up, up and away in his first career start with the Jazz.
Making his first career start, Grayson Allen gets up for the @utahjazz! #NBARooks#TeamIsEverything x #GrindCity pic.twitter.com/vQm86eW6BI
Remember that game winner? Collison knocks down this shot to cap off a 14-point performance.
Darren Collison shot-fake and jumper! #Pacers pic.twitter.com/4MPKt596Xu
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Jazz (4-4) at Nuggets (7-1), 9 p.m. ET — The 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 it hosts Utah on Saturday. The Jazz will come to Pepsi Center fresh off a 10-point loss to the Grizzles, 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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