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The Skip Pass: Big nights all over the Association!

The Skip Pass will be your home on Today’s Fastbreak for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.

Focus Games: Heat at Magic, Nets at Celtics, Rockets at Lakers

Other Games: Pacers at Mavericks, Pistons at Raptors, Hornets at Bucks, Timberwolves at Grizzlies, Nuggets at Pelicans, Thunder at 76ers, Kings at Suns

Heat 108 – Magic 96

Heat

— The Heat dominated inside on both ends of the floor. Miami had several dunks and layups on the offensive end, in addition to 16 offensive rebounds.

— On the defensive end of the floor, the Heat held the Magic in check, holding them to just 18-51 shooting in the paint. Hassan Whiteside blocked four shots and deterred several others.

— Miami, as per usual, was very well prepared and ready to play. They ran good sets and were a cohesive defensive unit. For opening night, this was very impressive considering how many new players they have.

— Willie Reed and Rodney McGruder both flashed some nice playmaking ability. With injuries already a problem for Miami, they need their deep bench players to step up.

— Tyler Johnson had an excellent night. He played PG when Goran Dragic sat, but also played both SG and SF. Erik Spoelstra went out of his way to praise Johnson’s effort after the game.

— After starting most of the preseason, Derrick Williams didn’t see a minute of floor time. Miami went with Luke Babbitt and James Johnson at PF.

Magic

— The Magic struggled on offense in the second half when the Heat locked in on defense. After getting to the line regularly in the first half, Orlando couldn’t get much going.

— Orlando’s defensive rotations were off at times as well. Bismack Biyombo was suspended for this game (a holdover from last year’s playoffs), and the Magic missed him quite a bit. Much of what they are building defensively is based around his skills.

— Elfrid Payton attacked the basket repeatedly in the first half and went 8-8 from the foul line. In the second half, Miami made it a point to keep him out of the paint. Still, it was great to see Payton confident and in attack mode.

— For stretches of the second half, the Magic played a dual PG lineup with Payton and D.J. Augustin. This was more about matching the Heat’s dual PG lineup of Dragic and Johnson, but on nights when Orlando needs some shooting, this is something to watch.

— Mario Hezonja really struggled to get much going on either end. The Heat made it a point to attack him with whomever he was guarding. He’ll have to pick it up on defense if he hopes to play at all.

Celtics 122 – Nets 117

Celtics

— One of the Celtics’ best attributes offensively will be the ability of any player on the team, minus Tyler Zeller, to get the ball and push it up the floor. This can create mismatches and present all sorts of opportunities for early, easy offense.

— With Kelly Olynyk still on the mend, Zeller got an opportunity to play and took advantage. He had 13 points on 6-7 shooting to go with four rebounds, two blocks and a surprising three assists.

— The Celtics shared the ball well with 36 assists on 48 baskets. Isaiah Thomas predictably led the way with nine assists, but Al Horford chipped in six of his own.

— Because of the passing ability and versatility of the offense, the Celtics got a lot of open looks. They didn’t always convert, but that should come.

— The Boston defense needs some work, as the Nets were able to get a lot of good looks themselves. They sagged off shooters and challenged them to make, which the Nets did.

— Tough shooting night for Jonas Jerebko, as he went just 1-8. But he did get four steals and was his typically active self.

— After building a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Celtics got sloppy late and let the Nets back in the game. Brad Stevens was visibly unhappy to have to bring the starters back in to the game, especially with a back-to-back game in Chicago looming.

Nets

— Justin Hamilton had a huge first half with 14 points. He hit several jumpers and handful of dunks. He finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He’s a true stretch 5, and the Nets love what he brings to their team.

— Bojan Bogdanovic carried over his impressive play from the Olympics with 21 points. There were points in the game where he looked like the best player on the floor for either team.

— Despite being down 23 at one point in the fourth quarter, the Nets had two chances to tie in the closing seconds, but Bogdanovic and Hamilton both missed good looks from three.

— Brooklyn got really good production from reserves Joe Harris and Sean Kilpatrick. Harris played a nice all-around game, showing up in all categories. Kilpatrick struggled from deep, but was able to finish several chances inside.

— The Nets may not be very good this year, but they have some interesting players who are worth monitoring. And they seem committed to letting it fly from deep. This could keep them in some games they shouldn’t really be in otherwise.

Lakers 120 – Rockets 114

Lakers

— The Lakers got great production from Jordan Clarkson off the bench with 25 points.

— Brandon Ingram had a solid debut with nine points on 4-6 shooting.

— Julius Randle played the Draymond Green role in the Luke Walton Warriors-like system and had 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

 

— The Lakers’ defense struggled at times, but they were able to hold James Harden to 9-19 shooting and 1-7 from three.

— Nick Young, who most thought would be traded or waived, drew the start at SG. He struggled on both ends and may not be long for the role.

Rockets

— James Harden was all everything for Houston. He had 34 points, eight rebounds and 17 assists.

— New running mates Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon combined for 33 total points.

— Clint Capela was the starting C and was up to the task with 16 points and nine rebounds.

— K.J. McDaniels brought some energy off the bench with 11 points on 5-5 shooting in just 12 minutes.

— The Rockets’ interior defense was a mess. The Lakers got almost whatever they wanted going to the basket. Capela gave an admirable effort, but he can’t do it on his own.

— The Rockets’ offense was predictably very good with the talented players they have and in the Mike D’Antoni system. But without at least a passable defensive effort, the Rockets won’t get where they want to go.

Pacers 130 – Mavericks 121 (OT)

Pacers

— The Pacers’ new starting five seemed to mesh together well, combining for 105 of the team’s 130 points.

— Both Paul George and Monta Ellis played good all-around games. George had 25/8/6 and Ellis went for 19/7/7.

— Myles Turner led the way with 30 points and 16 rebounds. He also led the Pacers in FGAs with 19, making 13.

Mavericks

— J.J. Barea had a monster game off the bench with 22 points and six assists.

— Harrison Barnes had a solid debut for Dallas with 19 points and nine rebounds, and he hit a clutch game-tying three to send the game to overtime.

 

— The Mavericks had to extend their starters for a lot of minutes: 40 for both Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews; 38 for Dirk Nowitzki; 35 for Harrison Barnes. In addition, Barea played 39 minutes off the bench.

— Seth Curry has a chance to be a big part of the rotation while Devin Harris is injured, but couldn’t take advantage. He fouled out in just 16 minutes.

Raptors 109 – Pistons 91

Raptors

— It was the DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas show as they combined for 72 points on 27-42 shooting from the floor.

 

— Pascal Siakam started the first game of his rookie year due to Jared Sullinger’s injury and responded with nine rebounds and solid defense.

— Kyle Lowry had an off shooting night, but he led the team with eight assists.

— The Raptors’ defense was solid all night. They had good rotations and chased guys off shots. Continuity helps a lot here.

Pistons

— Without Reggie Jackson, the Pistons’ offense struggled to get things going. Tobias Harris led the team with 22 points, but he also had 5 turnovers.

— Ish Smith had seven assists, but he struggled with his shot going just 3-10 from the field.

— Beno Udrih was thrown right into the fray after being claimed off waivers a couple of days ago. He was off with his shot, although he managed to chip in five points.

— Kentavious Caldwell-Pope managed just nine shot attempts. He’ll need more looks for the Pistons to generate enough offense to win games.

Hornets 107 – Bucks 96

Hornets

— Michael Kidd-Gilchrist played arguably the best game of his career with 23 points (on 10-18 shooting) and 14 rebounds.

— After missing the entire preseason, Cody Zeller came off the bench for 15 points in 14 minutes.

— Roy Hibbert stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and five blocks.

— All around the Hornets looked terrific. They raced out to an early lead and let their defense bring them home.

Bucks

— The Bucks started the super big lineup with Mirza Teletovic starting, but this group struggled defensively.

— Giannis Antetokounmpo was great as a scorer with 31 points, but struggled some as a playmaker with just five assists.

— Anytime Antetokounmpo left the floor, the Bucks really struggled. They are missing a secondary playmaker in the worst way.

— Greg Monroe had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in 29 miniutes.

— Rookie Malcolm Brogdon was productive with 8/5/5 in just 21 minutes.

Grizzlies 102 – Timberwolves 98

Grizzlies

— Marc Gasol and Mike Conley showed they are fully recovered from their injuries by combining for 42 points on 15-31 shooting. Gasol even hit 1-3 from behind the arc.

— Zach Randolph, who is playing as the Grizzlies’ sixth man, had 19/11 in just 25 minutes.

— Wade Baldwin had a nice debut with seven points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals and a very surprising three blocks.

— James Ennis, starting for the still recovering Chandler Parsons, had an efficient 16 points on 5-8 shooting.

Timberwolves

— The young Wolves weren’t quite ready to beat a playoff team on the road. After a 59-point first half, Minnesota struggled to just 39 points in the second.

— Gorgui Dieng provided a double-double of 12/14.

— Karl-Anthony Towns struggled a bit to score the ball at times, but he did have five assists.

— The Wolves didn’t get much from their bench with 17 points from the reserves.

Nuggets 107 – Pelicans 102

Nuggets

— Arguably one of the deepest teams in the NBA, Denver got production from eight players to steal a road win.

— Wilson Chandler played a regular-season game for the first time in over a year and had 12 points and seven rebounds.

— The Nuggets won despite 24 turnovers and only 18 assists. They’ll need to correct this ratio if they want to keep winning games.

— Will Barton continued his impressive play from last season with 22 points, this time as a starter.

Pelicans

— It was the Anthony Davis show as he opened the season with 50 points on 17-34 FGs and 16-17 FTs. Davis also had 16 rebounds, five assists, seven steals and four blocks.

 

— At one point, Davis switched onto Emmanuel Mudiay at the top of the key. Mudiay tried to cross him over and Davis picked his pocket cleanly and finished with a dunk. No other big in the league can match his skill set.

— Unfortunately for the Pelicans, the only other help Davis got came from Tim Frazier, who had 15 points and 11 assists.

— Buddy Hield had an unimpressive debut with four points on 2-8 shooting, including 0-3 from distance.

Thunder 103 – 76ers 97

Thunder

— Russell Westbrook just missed a triple-double by one assist, as he had 32/12/9.

— Enes Kanter chipped in with 17/12 off the bench, including a big follow-up finish late in the game when the Thunder put it away.

— Andre Roberson had a huge block on Gerald Henderson late in the game with the Thunder up just two.

— Domantas Sabonis drew the start at PF, but Ersan Ilyasova was slightly more productive, outscoring Sabonis 10-5.

76ers

— Joel Embiid finally played in a real NBA game! He didn’t disappoint with 20 points and seven rebounds. He showed everything we all hoped we would see.

 

— Dario Saric also made his debut, but struggled to a 2-12 shooting night and just five points. But Saric showed great understanding of how to play the game. Better nights to come.

— Nik Stauskas played a great game off the bench with 13 points on 5-6 shooting.

— Most impressively the 76ers battled a playoff team the whole way and were in the game until the end. “Trust the Process” indeed.

Kings 113 – Suns 94

Kings

— The Kings started fast with a 19-point halftime lead and never looked back.

— Ty Lawson had an effective Kings debut with nine points, six rebounds and seven assists.

— Matt Barnes made some big plays with 14 points and seven rebounds off the Kings bench.

— Ben McLemore only scored six points, but he was an impressive +21 in just 17 minutes.

Suns

— The Suns’ starters couldn’t get anything going and looked overmatched on the defensive end.

— Brandon Knight, in his new sixth-man role, had just seven points on 1-8 from the field.

— Dragan Bender looked better than he did all preseason with 10 points on 4-5 shooting, including 2-3 from behind the arc.

— T.J. Warren returned after missing a large chunk of last year, with 14 points.

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