Domantas Sabonis did everything for the Indiana Pacers but deliver a win in Wednesday’s season opener.
The former Gonzaga standout connected on his first six shots, scored 33 points – his career high is 36 – and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds. About the only thing that didn’t go right for Sabonis was his off-balance 14-footer that bounced off the rim at the buzzer as host Charlotte rallied past the Pacers 123-122.
Sabonis, a sixth-year pro and two-time All-Star, made 13 of 19 shots, including 4 of 6 3-pointers, and 3 of 4 at the foul line.
Elsewhere, opening night was a mixed bag for former Zags.
Jalen Suggs, drafted fifth overall by Orlando, and the young Magic struggled in a 123-97 road loss to San Antonio. Suggs started despite missing Orlando’s final preseason game last Wednesday and then several practices with an illness. He returned to practice Monday, but was rusty throughout his NBA debut.
Suggs, 20, made just 3 of 14 field-goal attempts, including 1 of 6 on 3-pointers, and finished with 10 points, one assist, one rebound, one steal and three turnovers in 30 minutes. Orlando has the third-youngest roster in the NBA with an average age of 24.7.
Corey Kispert, selected 15th overall by Washington, didn’t play in the Wizards’ 98-83 victory over Toronto. Fellow rookie Joel Ayayi, who signed a two-way contract with Washington after being released by the Los Angeles Lakers, wasn’t on the 13-player active roster.
No timetable has been set for Rui Hachimura’s return to game action. The third-year pro missed several weeks of Washington’s training camp for personal reasons. He has cleared health and safety protocols, but hasn’t been involved in contact drills and didn’t accompany the team on the trip to Toronto.
Kelly Olynyk was solid coming off the bench for Detroit, the fourth stop in his nine NBA seasons. He had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes in the Pistons’ 94-88 loss to Chicago.
Olynyk made 5 of 6 attempts inside the arc but missed all four 3-point attempts.
Brandon Clarke opened his third season with six points (3 of 3 from the field), three rebounds, one assist and one block in 12 minutes as Memphis defeated Cleveland 132-121. Killian Tillie, who is in his second season with the Grizzlies, and Cleveland’s Kevin Pangos, on his first NBA roster after playing six seasons overseas, didn’t play.
“Every single year I would have liked to be in the NBA. But I just tried to control what I could control and know that the spot I was in, I was there for a reason and I hadn’t quite earned it yet,” Pangos told the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently. “There was a lot of growing I had to do on and off the floor, as a person and a player. I think that allowed me to get to the point where I am.”
Zach Collins is recovering from surgery in June on his left ankle – the third operation on his ankle in a 10-month span – and is expected to make his debut with San Antonio “after Christmas,” coach Gregg Popovich told reporters earlier this month.
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