Aussie Simmons beaten in 76ers debut, Lin injured in Nets loss
Australian Ben Simmons was beaten in his debut while Asian-American standout Jeremy Lin suffered a severe right knee injury as the new National Basketball Association season tipped off on Wednesday for most clubs.
Simmons, a 21-year-old forward from Melbourne, was the top pick of last year's NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers but missed all of last season with a broken right foot.
Simmons made his much-awaited league debut at Washington, where the 76ers lost their season-opener to the host Wizards 115-120 despite 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists by the Aussie.
"I felt like I was playing (a video game), honestly," Simmons said.
John Wall scored 28 points and Bradley Beal added 25 for the Wizards, but Washington clung to only a 115-113 edge with 1:44 remaining after Simmons sank two free throws to end a 7-2 Sixers run.
Turnovers doomed two chances for the Sixers to equalize in the dying seconds, and the Wizards went 5-of-6 from the free-throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
"How about Ben Simmons' first game in the NBA?" 76ers coach Brett Brown said. "His first game was really exceptional — really, really exceptional."
Joel Embiid had 18 points, 13 rebounds and one block in 27 minutes after leg injuries kept him to only 31 games in his first three NBA seasons.
"To see Embiid out there ... I'm like, 'Man, I'm actually here.' It was fun," said Simmons.
A day after Gordon Hayward suffered a broken left leg, it was Brooklyn's Lin, the NBA's first US player of Chinese and Taiwanese heritage, who went down in Indiana's 140-131 home win over the Nets.
Lin, who scored 18 points, was hurt with 4:53 remaining, landing awkwardly after a drive to the basket, and helped off the court with a right knee injury.
"We just hope he's OK," Nets forward Caris LeVert said.
Lin played only 36 games last season due to nagging hamstring injuries.
Hayward made an emotional video appearance at Boston's home opener saying he would be "all right," but it was Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo who spoiled the night for the Celtics, scoring 37 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to spark the Milwaukee Bucks to a 108-100 victory.
Orlando's Evan Fournier scored 23 points, seven of them in the last two minutes, to lead the Magic over the visiting Miami Heat 116-109, their first season-opening triumph since 2012.
In Detroit, the Pistons made a triumphant debut at their new home in Little Caesars Arena with a 102-90 victory over Charlotte. Tobias Harris scored 27 points to lead Detroit while Kemba Walker led the Hornets with 24.
Mike Conley had 27 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Memphis Grizzlies beat visiting New Orleans 103-91, despite the Pelicans getting 33 points and 18 rebounds from Anthony Davis and 28 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven blocked shots from DeMarcus Cousins.
Dennis Schroder scored 28 points to lead the Atlanta Hawks past the hosts Dallas Mavericks 117-111 while Rudy Gobert scored 18 points to lead six double-figure scorers for the Utah Jazz in a 106-96 triumph over visiting the Denver Nuggets.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Spurs over the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-99 in San Antonio, while Damian Lillard netted 27 to power the Portland Trail Blazers to a 124-76 triumph at the Phoenix Suns.
The Houston Rockets, coming off an opening-night win at the champions Golden State Warriors, won 105-100 at the Sacramento Kings behind 27 points from James Harden plus 22 points and 17 rebounds from Clint Capela.