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NBA roundup

76ers 117, Pelicans 97

Joel Embiid and those members of the Philadelphia 76ers who made the trip to New Orleans for their regular-season opener looked unfazed by the absence of Ben Simmons and unaffected by the drama surrounding the disgruntled All-Star guard.

Embiid had 22 points and 12 rebounds, reserve Furkan Korkmaz hit four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to also score 22 points, and the 76ers pulled away for a 117-97 victory over the Pelicans on Wednesday night.

"We've been practicing hard," Embiid said, also noting that players who'd made the trip had enjoyed a team-bonding dinner in the city's historic Faubourg Marigny neighborhood a night earlier. "It was good to kind of get off to a good start, get a win and kind of forget about the off-the-court stuff."

A subplot to the game centered on Simmons and another All-Star who did not suit up.

New Orleans was without power forward Zion Williamson, who is recovering from surgery to repair his broken foot. Simmons was suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team.

The Pelicans clearly could have used Williamson, who averaged 27 points per game last season.

But while fans at the Philadelphia Flyers' NHL game Wednesday night were engaging in anti-Simmons chants, the Sixers were playing well without him a little more than 1,000 miles to the south in Louisiana.

Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey, inserted in the starting lineup in Simmons' absence, had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

"Everybody's capable," Maxey said. "At the end of the day, basketball's a team effort. You need an entire team to be able to win.

"I felt like the focus was there from shoot-around, probably even from when we got on the plane yesterday," Maxey continued. "The chemistry is really well. Guys like playing with each other, guys like being around each other. ... Sometimes adversity makes you stronger, makes the bond closer and we got to just keep building."

The Sixers dominated the fourth quarter to end Pelicans rookie coach Willie Green's debut on a sour note.

Still, Green said there were a "ton of positives" that New Orleans could take for the game and said it wasn't surprising to see the Sixers, an established playoff team, close the game well.

"They've been in these moments before. They know how to win down the stretch. We'll get there," Green said. "First game for us — everything's new. These guys are learning a new system, a new way to play. ... The fourth quarter didn't go our way, but we'll get better."

New Orleans was as close as six points when Brandon Ingram's turnaround fade made it 83-77 with 9:27 left.

Korkmaz responded with his onslaught from deep, hitting three 3s in less than a minute to put the Sixers up 92-79. That was the start of a 20-2 Sixers run that included another 3 by Korkmaz, sending fans to the exits ahead of an anticlimactic final six minutes.

"I was feeling it," Korkmaz said.

Ingram finished with 25 points and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, a new starter at guard in his third NBA season, scored 23 points.

Tobias Harris also scored 20 points for Philadelphia. Andre Drummond grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked two shots.

"Our focus level was zeroed into this game," Harris said. "I think it just comes from a lot of guys having added opportunity here and really trying to figure out ways that they can maximize that type of opportunity."

Georges Niang scored 11 for the 76ers

New center Jonas Valanciunas made his New Orleans debut on the same day he signed a two-year extension for a reported $30 million. He had nine points and 11 rebounds but missed 16 of 19 shots.

Hornets 123, Pacers 122

LaMelo Ball scored 31 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, and Charlotte used a 24-0 third-period run to battle back and beat Indiana.

Indiana led 122-121 on Torrey Craig's foul shots with 12.7 left. P.J. Washington made two free throws with 4.6 seconds left before Domantas Sabonis missed from 11 feet to seal the Hornets' victory.

Ball scored 12 points in the third-period run and finished with nine rebounds and seven assists. Gordon Hayward scored 27 points for Charlotte, which got 14 each from newcomers Kelly Oubre Jr. and Ish Smith.

Sabonis scored 33 points, Malcolm Brogdon had 28, and Chris Duarte chipped in with 27 for Indiana. The Pacers had a 21-point lead early in the second half.

Bulls 94, Pistons 88

Zach LaVine scored 15 of his 34 points in the third quarter, leading the Chicago past Detroit.

Detroit's Jerami Grant was off on an 11-foot baseline jumper with 50 seconds left, missing a chance to tie it. The Bulls sealed the victory by making free throws.

The Pistons were without rookie guard Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick, whose NBA debut was delayed by a sprained right ankle.

DeMar DeRozan had 17 points, and Lonzo Ball had 12 points in their Bulls debut. Nikola Vucevic had 10 points and 11 rebounds at halftime and finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Grant led the Pistons with 24 points.

Grizzlies 122, Cavaliers 121

Ja Morant had 37 points and six assists, De'Anthony Melton added 20 points and Memphis pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland.

Morant and Melton combined for 14 points down the stretch as the Cavaliers pulled within a point on a couple of occasions but could never overtake Memphis. Desmond Bane added 22 points for Memphis.

Jarrett Allen led the Cavaliers with 25 points, hitting all 11 of his shots from the field. Collin Sexton and rookie Evan Mobley added 17 points each. Cedi Osman keyed a first-half burst and finished with 15.

Wizards 98, Raptors 83

Bradley Beal scored 23 points, Montrezl Harrell had 22 in his Wizards debut and Washington spoiled Toronto's homecoming.

Kyle Kuzma — acquired with Harrell in the trade that sent Russell Westbrook to the Lakers — had 11 points and 15 rebounds for Washington. Spencer Dinwiddie, acquired from the Nets in the same four-team deal, scored 13 points for the Wizards, who led by as many as 29 points to give new coach Wes Unseld Jr. a victory in his first game.

Fred VanVleet scored 12 points and rookie Scottie Barnes had 12 in his debut, but it was a disappointing performance for the Raptors, who played in Toronto for the first time since a Feb. 28, 2020, loss to Charlotte. Toronto relocated to Tampa last season because of border restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Timberwolves 124, Rockets 106

Anthony Edwards energized the first full-size home crowd of his nascent career with 29 points in 31 minutes in Minnesota's victory over Houston.

Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 30 points and 10 rebounds, and D'Angelo Russell added 22 points and seven assists.

Christian Wood had 16 points and nine rebounds for Houston.

Jazz 107, Thunder 86

Rudy Gobert had 16 points and 21 rebounds to lead Utah past Oklahoma City.

Bojan Bogdanovic led Utah with 22 points, and Jordan Clarkson added 18.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 18 points for Oklahoma City.

Spurs 123, Magic 97

Devin Vassell scored 19 points, Lonnie Walker added 17 and San Antonio continued its success on opening night by dominating Orlando.

San Antonio is 23-2 in season openers under coach Gregg Popovich.

Mo Bamba had 18 points for Orlando.

Nuggets 110, Suns 98

Reigning NBA MVP Nikola Jokic had 27 points and 13 rebounds, leading Denver past Phoenix.

The 26-year-old Jokic earned his first MVP award last season after averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game. The Serbian was up to his old tricks Wednesday, scoring on a crafty variety of hook shots, 3-pointers and flat-footed jumpers. He was 13 of 22 from the field.

The Suns were playing three months after losing Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Milwaukee Bucks. Phoenix has returned much of the same roster, including the All-Star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, to make another run at the title.

The teams were playing for the first time since the Suns swept the Nuggets in four games in the second round of last season's Western Conference playoffs.

This time, it was Denver with the upper hand. Will Barton scored 20 points and Michael Porter Jr. added 15. Mikal Bridges led Phoenix with 16 points.

Kings 124, Trail Blazers 121

Harrison Barnes scored 36 points, De'Aaron Fox added 27 and Sacramento spoiled Portland's opener under new coach Chauncey Billups.

Richaun Holmes had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Kings.

CJ McCollum led Portland with 32 points. Damian Lillard added 18 points and 11 assists.

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