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                ***** NBA Previews from The Sports Network *****
                               Friday, October 31
                              (All times Eastern)
 
 
 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (1-0) AT INDIANA PACERS (1-0), 7 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - Two of the league's best defensive teams last season
 square off in Game 2 of this season Friday night when the Indiana Pacers host
 the Memphis Grizzlies at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
 
 The Pacers and Grizzlies finished second and third in opponents' scoring for
 the 2013-14 campaign. Both squads opened this season with victories, although
 both were against inferior competition.
 
 Indiana started the 2014-15 odyssey with a 103-91 victory over the
 Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. With Paul George most likely gone for the
 season, the Pacers set out on this 82-game test without David West, George
 Hill and C.J. Watson. All three are expected to miss Friday's contest with
 their litany of injuries.
 
 Roy Hibbert led the way for the Pacers with 22 points, eight rebounds and
 seven blocked shots. Donald Sloan, who replaced Hill in the starting lineup,
 and Rodney Stuckey, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, both finished
 with 16. Sloan added 10 rebounds.
 
 C.J. Miles added 15, followed by 11 from Chris Copeland and 10 out of Luis
 Scola.
 
 "I think we started slow, which is to be expected with the new faces," said
 head coach Frank Vogel. "I thought it might happen. The bench came in and
 stabilized things. Then the starters had a great second half. It wasn't
 perfect. It's a work in progress, but it's a positive first step."
 
 Memphis got its season off on a positive note with a 105-101 home victory over
 the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night. That was the Grizzlies' first
 season-opening victory since moving to Memphis and ended a bizarre, 13-game
 slide in first contests of the campaign.
 
 "First game is out of the way, now we can look at film and see ways we can
 improve," said Tony Allen. "We have a lot of improving to do; obviously
 executing on the defensive end. I felt there were a lot of times we could have
 closed them out and increased the lead. I thought we let our guard down."
 
 Marc Gasol had a career-high 32 points, nine rebounds, two steals and two
 blocks in the win.
 
 Zach Randolph added 25 points and 13 boards for the Grizzlies, who shot 52.4
 percent from the floor. Mike Conley and Courtney Lee tallied 16 and 14 points,
 respectively.
 
 Memphis' defense was a little lacking at times. The team nearly squandered a
 seven-point lead after three quarters and allowed the Wolves to shoot 50
 percent from beyond the arc.
 
 The Grizzlies' starters all played at least 33 minutes on Wednesday and the
 bench combined for 10 points.
 
 The teams split last season's two meetings with the home team holding court.
 Memphis' win at home in March ended a three-game series losing streak.
 
 
 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (0-1) AT CHICAGO BULLS (1-0), 8 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - LeBron James' return to the Cleveland Cavaliers was
 spoiled, but he won't have much time to cry about it as his squad faces the
 Chicago Bulls at the United Center Friday night.
 
 Amidst insane hype, immense hoopla and an appearance by Justin Beiber, James
 took the court at Quicken Loans Arena Thursday as a member of the Cavaliers
 once again. After four seasons, and two titles, with the Miami Heat, the
 prodigal son returned.
 
 And the Cavs lost and James looked shaky.
 
 The New York Knicks rode into Cleveland and left with a 95-90 victory.
 
 James, the four-time MVP, scored 17 points on 5-for-15 shooting, and committed
 eight turnovers. It was the first time in his already illustrious career that
 he had at least eight turnovers, fewer than 20 points and fewer than five
 assists.
 
 "Eight is not okay," James said of the turnovers. "I think some of the
 turnovers were careless. My turnovers, some of them were careless and some of
 them were chemistry. I'm throwing passes where I was hoping some of my
 teammates would be.
 
 "It was a huge night. It was exciting for the fans, exciting for the city,"
 said James. "But, now we can just play regular basketball. "
 
 Kevin Love, acquired in a blockbuster deal from the Timberwolves, had 19
 points and 14 rebounds in his first action in a Cleveland uniform, while
 returning star Kyrie Irving led the way with 22 points and seven assists.
 
 Anderson Varejao and Dion Waiters both chipped in 10 points.
 
 The Cavs allowed the Knicks to shoot 53.6 percent from the floor and 50
 percent from beyond the 3-point line. While all five Cleveland starters scored
 in double figures, the bench was out-pointed, 41-12. James and Irving both
 played over 43 minutes in the Cavaliers' season-opener.
 
 Things certainly don't get easier for LeBron and company. Most pundits
 predicted a showdown for Eastern Conference supremacy between the Cavs and
 Bulls and their first battle comes just two games into the long campaign, in
 the home opener for the Bulls no less.
 
 "It's as good as it gets. Just being able to play in that building is very
 special," said Chicago's Joakim Noah.
 
 The Bulls opened the 2014-15 season against the Knicks and squashed them,
 104-80, Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
 
 The key to the Bulls' success this season rests on former MVP, Derrick Rose's
 shoulders. Actually, the key rests in his knees to be more specific. He played
 only 10 regular-season games the last two seasons, but scored 13 points and
 handed out five assists on Wednesday.
 
 "We played good basketball and it led to an easy game," noted Rose. "It's just
 the first game, (but) when things run smooth like they were running tonight,
 everyone will look at our entire team and see how deep we are."
 
 Bench player Taj Gibson led Chicago in scoring with 22 points. Pau Gasol, the
 prize free-agent acquisition of the offseason, finished with 21. Aaron Brooks
 chipped in 13 with the reserves and rookie Doug McDermott and Kirk Hinrich
 both scored 12.
 
 The Bulls, one of the best defensive teams in the league since head coach Tom
 Thibodeau took over, held the Knicks to 36.5 percent shooting from the field
 and 17.6 from 3-point range.
 
 Jimmy Butler, Chicago's versatile young wing, missed Wednesday's game with a
 thumb injury. Original reports had him done for two to four weeks, but Butler
 might give it a go on Friday.
 
 "He did a little more today. It wasn't a heavy day," Thibodeau said after
 practice on Thursday. "We'll see where we are tomorrow. It's day to day. We'll
 see."
 
 The Bulls won three of four against the Cavs last season and went 13-2 against
 their Central Conference rivals while James was in South Beach. Cleveland is
 2-8 in its last 10 at Chicago.
 
 
 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (0-1) AT MILWAUKEE BUCKS (0-1), 8:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, the two
 worst teams in the Eastern Conference last season, will meet Friday night at
 the Bradley Center.
 
 The Bucks' home-opener Friday comes after a heart-breaking, 108-106 overtime
 loss Wednesday night in Charlotte against the Hornets.
 
 The Bucks squandered a 24-point third-quarter cushion when Charlotte's Kemba
 Walker made a 3-pointer to tie the contest with 1.6 seconds left. Walker then
 won the game for the Hornets thanks to a jumper with 5.1 ticks on the clock.
 
 Milwaukee, coming off a league-worst 15-67 campaign, played well for much of
 the night under new head coach Jason Kidd before wilting down the stretch.
 
 Brandon Knight totaled 22 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in a losing
 cause, with Khris Middleton and O.J. Mayo each tallying 17 points for the
 Bucks.
 
 Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo both finished with 10 points in
 defeat.
 
 Jabari Parker had a quiet NBA debut, however, managing just eight points and
 four rebounds in 37 minutes in the Milwaukee rookie and former Duke star's
 return to the Carolinas.
 
 "It was everything I expected, two great teams going down to the wire," Parker
 said. "The better team won today, but we're going to get better."
 
 The Sixers, who owned the second-worst mark in the NBA last season, started
 the 2014-15 campaign with a 103-91 setback at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to the
 Indiana Pacers.
 
 Philadelphia was without Michael Carter-Williams, the reigning Rookie of the
 Year, who is on the shelf after offseason shoulder surgery. Joel Embiid, taken
 third overall in June, has a foot injury and will most likely miss the season,
 and Dario Saric, who the team traded for on draft night, has a two-year
 contract overseas.
 
 It looks like another long season ahead for the Sixers.
 
 "We're not worried about what's on paper. They put the ball out there for a
 reason, to play 48 minutes," guard Tony Wroten said. "Every game, we come out
 to play hard and try to win."
 
 Wroten ended with 22 points, eight boards, seven assists and three steals for
 the Sixers, who went 19-63 last season. Alexey Shved, who came to Philly in a
 deal for Thaddeus Young, tallied 18 points.
 
 Nerlens Noel had six points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in his NBA debut.
 Noel was acquired on draft night in 2013 and sat all of last season to heal
 from a torn ACL.
 
 The Bucks won two of three meetings against the Sixers last season, and have
 taken three in a row and six of the last seven as the host in this series.
 
 
 PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (1-0) AT SACRAMENTO KINGS (0-1), 10 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Portland Trail Blazers try to stay unbeaten on the
 young season when they visit the Sacramento Kings Friday night.
 
 Portland has high expectations for this season behind LaMarcus Aldridge and
 Damian Lillard. Aldridge recorded 27 points and Lillard added 10 with five
 assists in Wednesday's 106-89 victory over the Kevin Durant-less Oklahoma City
 Thunder.
 
 Wesley Matthews had 22 points and Robin Lopez chipped in 11 to go along with a
 game-best 10 rebounds. The Trail Blazers, who needed a big fourth quarter
 (31-12) to dispatch the Thunder, made 44.8 percent from the floor and scored
 20 points off 15 OKC turnovers.
 
 "I was pleased the way we did it in the second half with defense," Blazers
 head coach Terry Stotts said. "Defense led to some good offense at the end."
 
 Nicolas Batum had 16 points and Chris Kaman 12 off the bench in his Portland
 debut.
 
 The Kings opened their season with a 95-77 loss at home to the Golden State
 Warriors Wednesday, as DeMarcus Cousins continued his FIBA World Cup dominance
 with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
 
 Cousins didn't get much support with 14 points from Rudy Gay and 13 by
 newcomer Darren Collison. Ben McLemore didn't score in 26 minutes of action
 and missed all five of his shots for Sacramento, which hit a lowly 30.8
 percent from the field and just 3-of-18 3-pointers.
 
 Golden State scored 26 points off 27 turnovers. Cousins turned the ball over
 six times.
 
 "It was at 5:40 in the third quarter when we were up by one, and we turned
 into the Keystone Cops," Kings head coach Michael Malone said.
 
 The Kings, whose season high for turnovers last season was 25, had won their
 last 13 openers at home.
 
 Portland defeated Sacramento three times in four attempts last season. The two
 teams have split the past 16 encounters in California's capital city. The
 Trail Blazers lead the all-time series, 121-75 (80-44 in Sacramento era).
 
 
 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (1-0) AT PHOENIX SUNS (1-0), 10 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The banner's up, rings are safely secured and the San
 Antonio Spurs successfully opened defense of last season's title.
 
 The Spurs get back to work Halloween night on the road against the competitive
 Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center and will have Kawhi Leonard in the lineup.
 
 Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP, missed the final six preseason games and
 Tuesday's season-opening 101-100 win over the rival Dallas Mavericks because
 of a right eye infection. He is entering his fourth season and averaged a
 career-high 12.8 points in 66 games last season.
 
 San Antonio was able to squeeze past the Mavericks at the AT&T Center, as Tony
 Parker finished with 23 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with just
 over a minute left. Manu Ginobili had 20 points off the bench, Marco Belinelli
 posted 15 points in the start at forward and Tim Duncan added 14 and 13
 rebounds.
 
 The Spurs shot 52.9 percent for the game and made 14-of-28 3-pointers. Parker
 buried all four of his shots from long range and both Belinelli and Danny
 Green sank three. Green scored 13 points for San Antonio, which is 5-0 when
 receiving championship rings.
 
 San Antonio assistant coach Becky Hammon made her debut on the bench. She
 became the second female in NBA history to work on an NBA coaching staff, but
 the first woman to open the season on the bench as a hired employee.
 
 Spurs center Tiago Splitter (strained right calf) and guard Patty Mills (right
 shoulder surgery) will not play against the Suns. Parker talked about holding
 it together without three top contributors.
 
 "Overall, we did a pretty good job playing without Kawhi, Tiago and Patty.
 Three guys who are very important to our team," said Parker. "It was a big win
 for us."
 
 The Spurs recorded 31 road wins last season.
 
 Phoenix picked up where it left off last season with Wednesday's 119-99
 drubbing of the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns had a 33-19 lead after the first
 quarter and later posted a 39-23 difference in the third. They never trailed
 in the game.
 
 Isaiah Thomas netted 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting off the bench and Marcus
 Morris finished with 21. Goran Dragic, who's expected to have another stellar
 season, scored 18 points and a healthy Eric Bledsoe notched 16, as the Suns
 shot 54.9 percent and sank 16-of-32 3-pointers.
 
 Thomas and Morris each hit five 3-pointers.
 
 "I got going a little bit, and we had fun. A good start," Thomas said after
 his Suns' debut.
 
 Suns forward P.J. Tucker will serve his second game of a three-game suspension
 for his DUI in August. Tucker, who signed a three-year contract in July, was
 sentenced on Aug. 4 to three days in jail and 11 days of home detention for an
 arrest on May 10 in Scottsdale.
 
 Tucker averaged career highs of 9.4 points and 6.5 rebounds in 81 games last
 season for the Suns.
 
 Phoenix lost three of the four games against the Spurs last season and are
 only 3-12 in the past 15 meetings between the Western squads. Spurs guard
 Green is the second cousin of Suns forward Gerald Green.
 
 
 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS (1-0) AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS (0-2), 10:30 P.M.
 
 (SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Lakers started the 2012 season 0-3 and
 the third straight loss came at the hands of the rival Clippers.
 
 History could repeat itself when the Pacific foes renew their rivalry Friday
 night at Staples Center.
 
 The Lakers lost their season opener to Houston, 108-90, then were hammered in
 Phoenix by a 119-99 score Wednesday. Kobe Bryant, who scored 19 points in
 Tuesday's loss to the Rockets, put up 31 points on 11-of-25 shooting against
 the Suns.
 
 Bryant, of course, is coming back from an Achilles tear and knee injury.
 
 "I told you guys from the beginning I am back to myself," Bryant said.
 
 Ed Davis and Wayne Ellington rounded out the double-digit scorers for Los
 Angeles with 14 and 13 points, respectively, off the bench. The Suns had six
 players in double figures, including two with 20 or more, and scored a 39-23
 difference in the third quarter.
 
 Jeremy Lin has yet to score in double figures with seven and six points in his
 first two games with LA.
 
 Los Angeles is without rookie forward Julius Randle (leg) for the season and
 is 9-2 in the last 11 games on Halloween-night games. The team is 11-5 overall
 on the specific night.
 
 While the Lakers, who are the home team on Friday night, could finish near the
 bottom of the Western Conference, the Clippers are expected to be at the top.
 
 The Clippers got their season started off with a bang, handing the Kevin
 Durant-less Oklahoma City Thunder a 93-90 defeat Thursday night. Thunder guard
 Russell Westbrook is supposed to pick up the slack in Durant's absence, but he
 suffered a broken hand early in the game.
 
 Still, Los Angeles had trouble with OKC and managed to prevail even though it
 shot 39.1 percent from the floor. Blake Griffin led the hosts with 23 points
 and seven rebounds, while Chris Paul posted 22 points and seven assists. LA
 was dreadful from 3-point territory, going 7-for-30 beyond the arc.
 
 The Clippers were even outrebounded, 47-33, but had 14 on the offensive end.
 
 "Opening nights are tough. We won but we didn't play well," Clippers head
 coach Doc Rivers said. "I didn't like our tempo. We have to play at a better
 pace."
 
 DeAndre Jordan grabbed 10 boards to go along with eight points. Jamal Crawford
 scored 16 points off the bench.
 
 This was the first regular season game for new Clippers owner and former
 Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who purchased the team for a record $2 billion
 this offseason.
 
 The Clippers went 3-1 against the Lakers last season and won all four meetings
 in 2012-13. The Lakers are 10-3 in the last 13 games as the host in this
 series and lead the all-time rivalry, 144-56.
 
 Bryant is averaging 25.9 points in 64 career games (56 starts) against the
 Clippers. He has two 50-point games against them.
 
 10/31 10:25:31 ET

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