NBA: Warriors defeat Lakers to begin title defense, while Celtics defeat 76ers.

The Golden State Warriors beat LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers 123-109 on Tuesday night after collecting their title rings in a pregame ceremony, led by Stephen Curry’s 33 points, seven assists, and six rebounds.

Jordan Poole delivered a nice bounce pass to a driving Draymond Green for a layup, and all appeared well with the reigning champs almost two weeks after Green punched Poole during practice on 5 October, then took a temporary leave of absence to work on his emotions. Poole finished the game with 12 points and seven assists.

Russell Westbrook scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds despite a strained left hamstring, while LeBron James had 31 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Anthony Davis scored 27 points, but the Lakers couldn’t keep up with Curry and company in another classic, runaway third quarter.

Klay Thompson scored 18 points in 20 minutes for the Warriors, who won their fourth championship in eight years.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr limited Thompson’s and Green’s minutes, who was absent from the club until last Thursday. Kerr said he will raise Thompson’s minutes per game as a precaution after his comeback in January from a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to operations on his left knee and right achilles tendon.

Warriors center James Wiseman made his first game since his rookie season of 2019-20, after missing the whole previous season due to right knee surgery. He finished with eight points and seven rebounds.

Curry used the microphone during Golden State’s championship ring ceremony to make an emotional plea for Brittney Griner, who was celebrating her 32nd birthday in a Russian jail.

Steph Curry shouts out Brittney Griner during championship ring night speech | Daily Mail Online“We want to continue to use our platform and the opportunity to shout out a very special member of the basketball community. Brittney Griner’s birthday is today, she’s 32,” Curry informed the crowd.

“We want to continue to let her name be known and we pray … it’s been 243 days since she was wrongfully incarcerated in Russia. We hope that she comes home soon, that everybody’s doing their part to get her home.”

Philadelphia 76ers 117-126 Boston Celtics.

The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 126-117 on Tuesday night in the NBA regular season opener. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both scored 35 points.

Malcolm Brogdon had 16 points and Grant Williams had 15 as the reigning Eastern Conference champions handed interim coach Joe Mazzulla his first victory.

Mazzulla brilliantly coached a Celtics squad that resembled the one that shocked the NBA by reaching the finals last season.

Boston took a 110-97 lead with eight minutes remaining and never trailed again.

Mazzulla has taken over as team captain after Ime Udoka was suspended for the season following an inquiry by a law firm that discovered he violated various team policies.

Joel Embiid chipped in with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Tyrese Maxey finished with a total of 21 points.

Mazzulla has committed to maintain the ethos that Udoka developed on the floor as a rookie head coach last season.

He claims that it will be done mostly on defense, but the offense was the story for the Celtics on Tuesday, as they shot 56% from the field.

Robert Williams out due to offseason knee surgery, the Celtics stayed with the same starting lineup they had in the preseason, starting defensive stalwart Derrick White with Marcus Smart,  Al Horford, Brown, and  Tatum.

The lesser bunch slowed up Philadelphia at times, pushing the 76ers into 14 turnovers for the game, which led to 22 points for Boston.

With Harden entering his first full season in Philadelphia after being traded for Ben Simmons late last season in a deal with Brooklyn, the 76ers are expecting to compete with the best teams in the Eastern Conference.

Harden irritated the Celtics by exhibiting the movement that he lacked a year ago. He was frequently able to go to the free throw line. He also made four three-pointers in the first half, including a rainbow heave from the top of the key to beat the shot clock late in the second quarter.