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Recap

Leonard leads Clippers over LeBron and Lakers 112-102

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Kawhi Leonard began a new chapter with the Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 30 points to go with a strong bench effort in a 112-102 victory over LeBron James and the Lakers on Tuesday night in the teams’ season opener.

Lou Williams added 21 points and Montrezl Harrell had 17 off the bench when the Clippers opened their 50th season and 36th in Los Angeles as the once unlikely but now favorites to win the franchise’s first NBA championship.

Leonard won his second NBA title last season in Toronto.

The Lakers showed off their new 1-2 punch of James and Anthony Davis. Davis scored 25 points, making 9 of 14 free throws, and James had 18. Danny Green outscored them both with 28 points.

But Leonard got it done without his personal recruit Paul George, sidelined indefinitely while rehabbing from a pair of offseason shoulder surgeries.

RAPTORS 130, PELICANS 122, OT

TORONTO — Fred VanVleet scored a career-high 34 points, Pascal Siakam fouled out with 34 points and 18 rebounds, and defending champion Toronto beat New Orleans in the NBA’s season-opening game.

Kyle Lowry scored 22 points, including a pair of free throws that put Toronto in the lead for good, and Serge Ibaka had 13 as the Raptors won their seventh straight season opener and posted their eighth win in nine meetings with the Pelicans.

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday tied it at 122 by making a pair of free throws with 2:23 left in overtime. Lowry answered with his foul shots, VanVleet hit a corner 3, and Lowry also connected from long range to cap a decisive 8-0 run.

Brandon Ingram scored 22 points and Josh Hart had 15 points and 10 rebounds for New Orleans, which began the season without No. 1 pick Zion WilliamsonJJ Redick scored 16 points, Nicolo Melli had 14 and Holiday added 13.

Welcome back, NBA! Preview 2019: Rankings, projections and big questions for all 30 teams

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10 storylines to follow in the 2019-20 NBA season

Associated Press

The NBA season starts Tuesday night, and here are 10 storylines to follow for the 2019-20 campaign:

NO. 2 IN 3’S

Golden State’s Stephen Curry is about to become No. 2 on the league’s all-time 3-pointers made list.

Curry enters this season with 2,483 made 3-pointers, leaving him 78 away from passing Reggie Miller for No. 2 on the list.

That will leave only Ray Allen — 2,973 — ahead of Curry.

NO. 2 IN TRIPLE-DOUBLES

Houston’s Russell Westbrook is one triple-double away from passing Magic Johnson on the NBA’s all-time regular season list.

Westbrook has 138 triple-doubles, matching Johnson’s total. Westbrook enters this year 43 away from the record of 181, held by Oscar Robertson.

Westbrook had eight triple-doubles in his first six seasons. He’s had 130 in the five seasons since.

LEBRON’S MILESTONES

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is nearing several milestones.

He’s 1,101 points from passing Kobe Bryant for No. 3 on the all-time regular-season scoring list, is two games away from becoming the 40th player in league history with 1,200 appearances, and two starts from passing Bryant again for No. 10 on the career games-started list with 1,199.

He’s also 522 field-goal tries away from 24,000, and will be the sixth player in league history to get there.

VINCE IS OLD

Vince Carter is about to become the first player in NBA history to appear in 22 seasons. And if he plays for Atlanta at Denver on Nov. 12 — or any game after that — he will become the fourth-oldest player to appear in an NBA regular-season game.

The three oldest: Nat Hickey (45 years, 363 days in his last appearance), Kevin Willis (44 years, 224 days) and Robert Parish (43 years, 232 days). On Nov. 12, Carter will be 42 years and 290 days old — one day older than Dikembe Mutombo was in his final regular-season game.

Carter turns 43 on Jan. 26. He’s older than four current NBA coaches — Charlotte’s James Borrego, Memphis’ Taylor Jenkins, Minnesota’s Ryan Saunders and Sacramento’s Luke Walton.

Carter enters this season with 1,481 games played. That’s fifth all-time; he’s 24 games from passing No. 4 John Stockton, 42 games from passing No. 3 Dirk Nowitzki and 80 games from passing No. 2 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Parish leads the list with 1,611 games.

DEANDRE DOESN’T MISS

Among players with 2,000 field goals in NBA history, Brooklyn’s DeAndre Jordan has the best shooting percentage of anyone — .670 entering this season, well ahead of second-place Artis Gilmore’s .599.

To put that in perspective: If Jordan took 554 shots this season and missed every one of them, he’d still be ahead of Gilmore.

INTERNATIONAL GAMES

The NBA is going international for three games this season — two in Mexico City, the other in Paris.

The Mexico City matchups have Dallas playing Detroit on Dec. 12 and Phoenix playing San Antonio on Dec. 14. In Paris, it’ll be Charlotte against Milwaukee on Jan. 24.

They’ll be home games for Detroit, Phoenix and Charlotte.

Dallas will have a bit of a rarity: The Mavericks will play in three different countries in an 11-day span, starting with the game in Mexico, followed by four in the U.S. and then a trip to Toronto on Dec. 22.

REDICK’S STREAK

J.J. Redick won a state championship in his senior year of high school. He went to the NCAA Tournament in all four of his college seasons at Duke.

And in 13 NBA seasons, he’s been to the playoffs 13 times.

Postseason basketball is an annual rite for Redick, a streak he’s putting on the line this season with the New Orleans Pelicans. And Redick mentioned the streak to Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson, another former Duke player, in their first real conversation about the coming season.

“The last thing I said to him was, `Look man, don’t (mess) this up for me,” Redick said. “He got it.”

BETTER SHOTS

Not only did teams take more shots last season than at any time in the last 35 years, they were connecting a pretty good clip as well.

Across the NBA, teams made 46.1% of their shot attempts last season — the league’s second-best rate since 1995-96.

KINGS’ DROUGHT

Sacramento has gone 13 seasons without a playoff appearance, the longest such drought in franchise history — and tied for the second-longest in NBA history.

The Clippers missed 15 consecutive postseasons from 1977 through 1991. Minnesota missed 13 in a row from 2005 through 2017.

The Kings are one of only four franchises that currently have playoff droughts of longer than three seasons — the Knicks have missed nine in a row, and the Lakers and Knicks have both missed the last six postseasons.

PLANNING AHEAD

For those who want to start planning, here are some key dates for the postseason and draft season next spring: Playoffs will start on April 18, the draft lottery in Chicago is on May 19, the draft combine in Chicago is May 21-24, the NBA Finals will begin on June 4 and Game 7 of the title series — if necessary — is on June 21.