LOS ANGELES, United States, Jan 1 – James Harden scored a game high 33 points and John Wall finished with a double-double in his first game since 2018 as the Houston Rockets beat the Sacramento Kings 122-119 on Thursday.
Wall tallied 22 points and nine assists for the Rockets, who were also playing their first game with DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon.
“It was great to get our first win,” said Wall. “My job is to help James as much as possible and to try and make it easier for him.”
Wall was acquired from Washington for Russell Westbrook. He scored his first points since December 2018 on a left-handed dunk.
Harden sank two free throws late in the game as the Rockets held on for the win. Sacramento had a chance to tie it but missed two threes in the final seconds in front of a pandemic-limited crowd of 3,200 in Texas.
Harden also had eight assists and six rebounds in the first game of a two-game set with the Kings. The two clubs play again in Houston on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Joel Embiid delivered 21 points and nine rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers sank 15 three pointers to hand the Orlando Magic their first loss of the new season with a 116-92 win.
Embiid scored all his points in just three quarters for the Sixers who sank eight of their first 12 attempts from three-point range in front of 3,000 fans at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.
The Magic were the NBA’s last undefeated team, off to a surprising 4-0 start for the first time in franchise history.
Seth Curry added 21 points and five three-pointers, and Tobias Harris chipped in 20 points, nine rebounds and three three-pointers for Philadelphia, who led by as much as 37 points in the first half. The Sixers scored 38 points in the first quarter and boosted that total to 75 by the half.
“We did a good job of moving that ball around and mixing it up with three-point shots off the double teams and driving the basketball,” said Curry.
“We know we have a lot of potential and ways to grow, but to be 4-1 already is good.”
The season-high 15 three pointers included one from Ben Simmons who drained just the third one of his career. Simmons finished with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Nikola Vucevic finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Magic, while rookie guard Cole Anthony came off the bench to score 16 points.
Elsewhere, the Toronto Raptors posted their first win of the season, putting an halt to their worst start in 15 years.
Fred VanVleet finished with 25 points, while Kyle Lowry had 20 and the Raptors pulled away to beat the New York Knicks 100-83.
Toronto was missing star forward Pascal Siakam who did not dress for the game but sat on the bench with his teammates. Siakam fouled out of Tuesday’s contest at Philadelphia.
– Poor shooting –
New York’s attempt to win their third consecutive game was ruined by three-for-36 shooting from beyond the arc.
Siakam was replaced by forward Norman Powell who finished with 17 points after making three of Toronto’s first four baskets.
Kyle Lowry had 20 points for the Raptors, who improved to 1-3 on the season.
Julius Randle had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Reggie Bullock and RJ Barrett combined to go zero-for 17 from three-point range in the loss.