From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and those wily San Antonio Spurs showed the kids a thing or two.No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis fit right in for New Orleans in his pro debut, scoring 21 points with a dazzling variety of offensive moves, but the Spurs came through in the final minute for a 99-95 victory over the Hornets on opening night Wednesday.Parker hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 49.6 seconds remaining, Duncan tacked on a couple of free throws and the Spurs celebrated at the end, having turned back a franchise that hopes to rebuild around a couple of rookies.Davis and fellow first-round pick Austin Rivers both started for the Hornets, who fell to the bottom of the Western Conference last season after trading Chris Paul to the Clippers. Rivers struggled in his debut, going 1 of 9 from the field and finishing with just seven points.Not so for Davis. Even with only one season of college, which he put to good use by leading Kentucky to a national title and earning player of the year honors, he showed no signs of being a tentative rookie."He's only going to get better," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "I love him because he takes losing hard, the way I do. He's in there feeling like it's the end of the world. You can't help but love guys who take it in the heart the way you do."Of course, considering how it was at Kentucky, this is going to take some getting used to. Davis and the Wildcats lost only two games last season. He's halfway to that total with his new team."I'm just trying to play the game. Go out there and explore," Davis said. "If I don't have shots, look for my teammates. And they were doing a great job of finding me in my sweet spots. All the credit goes to them really."He was admittedly nervous before his first real game as a pro, though it didn't show."That's just how I am," Davis said. "We can be playing against a high school team, it doesn't matter. You want to perform well. You get amped up and nervous because you don't know if you're going to play well."Duncan scored 24 points and Parker added 23 for the Spurs, who trailed 91-87 after Davis hit two free throws with 2:42 remaining. Duncan erased the deficit all by himself, scoring off a drive, then grabbing a pass in the lane from Boris Diaw and powering inside for a dunk, despite getting fouled by Roger Mason. A free throw completed the three-point play and put the Spurs ahead with 1:48 left.To their credit, the Hornets didn't fold. Greivis Vasquez tossed up a lob that Davis dunked, putting New Orleans back ahead. Duncan responded, going over Ryan Anderson to tip in a missed shot.After Davis made two free throws with 1:08 remaining to send New Orleans to its final lead, 95-94, the Spurs took control. San Antonio worked the ball with a series of quick passes until Parker broke free by the top of the arc. He connected with 49.6 seconds left for a go-ahead 3-pointer.Vasquez missed an open 3, slapping his hands in disgust after the ball bounced off the front of the rim. Duncan grabbed the rebound, was quickly fouled and padded the lead with two free throws. Al-Farouq Aminu took one more 3, but it missed badly. The Spurs dribbled out the clock, showing they're not ready to give in yet to a team such as the Hornets."Their youth and athleticism made it difficult for us," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's a great group of guys, and it's going to be a fun team to watch. If Timmy doesn't do what he does, that's a loss for us."Duncan and the Spurs tightened up defensively, and the 15-year veteran just refused to be denied at the offensive end."We put in some plays for him," Popovich said, "but it was just his determination down the stretch that got us the win."Rivers, the son of Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, said an ankle that bothered him during the preseason was just fine. But he played like a rookie, especially in the first half."I was thinking too much," Rivers said. "The second half, I just played. It was my first game. Now I know what to do and what not to do. That won't happen again."Duncan schooled Davis right away, scoring a couple of quick baskets against the rookie. But school didn't last long. Davis knocked down an 18-foot jumper from the baseline. Then he swished a 16-footer. By the end of his first quarter in the NBA, the kid had nine points and four rebounds, leading the Hornets to a 31-28 lead.New Orleans stretched its advantage to 50-43 at halftime, but San Antonio dominated the early part of the third quarter to turn the deficit into a seven-point lead. New Orleans fought back, sending the game to the final period tied at 71. It was tight the rest of the way, neither team leading by more than four points.The crowd of 15,358 was about 2,500 short of a sellout at New Orleans Arena, showing the Davis era has yet to totally capture the city's imagination.Give him time.The Spurs don't have a lot of time with their 30-something core -- Duncan, Parker and Manu Ginobili -- but let's not forget they had the best record in the West a year ago. San Antonio was knocked off in the conference finals by youthful Oklahoma City and found itself a man down in the opener.Ginobili wasn't able to play because of back spasms.The Hornets couldn't quite take advantage of his absence."It was a great night," Davis said. "We all went out there and had fun. It didn't end the way we wanted it to, but that's a great Spurs team. We're going to see them again, and it's going to be another great game."Notes: The Hornets also were short-handed. G Eric Gordon remains out indefinitely after missing all of training camp with a sore left knee. ... Aminu finished with 17 points and had a couple of highlight-reel dunks. ... The teams were even on the boards, each finishing with 43 rebounds. ... Davis had just one blocked shot, one of his big weapons at Kentucky.
SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders hope central Florida is a home away from home. They’re treating this week in picturesque Sarasota as a normal practice week, with freedom to roam after practice and meetings and meals.
While that makes it sound like Raiders can take advantage of this beautiful beach town and the Ritz Carlton amenities, that isn’t exactly true. While there have been dinners and trips to the hotel’s beach club, most have become familiar with the quarantined event space housing most non-practice activities.
“I looked out this morning and realized there was actually water close by,” head coach Jack Del Rio said with a smile. “It only took me three days to realize that. We’re just going about our business really. Happens to be a beautiful city, but the work’s the same. Put the last game behind you, get ready for the next. Understand what they like, what they’re good at, who their strong players are. Who are some guys that are not as strong? We want to make sure we attack them, things like that. It’s very normal in terms of the preparation and the way we’re going about our business.”
The Raiders have a fixed routine through the heart of his practice week. They have morning meetings as always, with a walk thru conducted in a hotel ballroom. Then they eat and head out to the famous IMG Academy, located 16 miles north in Bradenton. Their first full practice was conducted Wednesday afternoon.
The school/training space has some famous alumni and trainees including Cam Newton, Tim Howard, Andre Agassi and Amar’e Stoudemire.
A few Raiders have trained there as well. Amari Cooper participated in a national 7-on-7 tournament there, and three offensive linemen did pre-NFL draft work at a massive facility that also acts as a school for athletic children.
“I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s pretty nice,” Crabtree said. “I just don’t when all those guys go to school. It seems like it’s sports year round. That’s a nice facility and that’s good.”
The Raiders hope to mimic a typical game week, but it’s not always easy. This still feels like a road trip, though it’s a pretty nice one with perfect weather and a postcard’s backdrop.
“It’s just a change of scenery. I feel like we’re just enjoying it,” Crabtree said. “It’s beautiful. Sarasota, this is nice. Taking it all in and at the same time, we’re working every day. You can’t beat this weather. You can’t beat this scenery, the Ritz, you can’t beat none of this. I’m just taking it all in, enjoying it and playing ball.”
Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith compared this experience to training camp in Napa where a team really comes together, though it comes with a bit less stress.
“As far as team bonding goes, this has been a great experience,” he said. “It’s better than camp because we’re not fighting for jobs and things like that. This is our group, and we’re focused on getting ready to play."
There are ancillary benefits to a long Florida trip as well.
“I love it, man. The weather’s nice and there’s no state tax here,” Carr said with a laugh. “That’s always a good thing for the people that live here. (laughter) It’s been awesome. The people here have been great.”
The beginning is here. The Sacramento Kings open their 2016-17 campaign Wednesday night in Phoenix when they battle the young, but talented Suns.
Opening night marks the official start of the Dave Joerger era of Kings basketball. Joerger ran a 147-99 record with the Memphis Grizzlies over three seasons, including back-to-back-to-back playoff appearances. He’s taxed with ending the Kings decade long playoff drought, which has slayed the previous eight head coaches in Sacramento.
Eight new faces don the Kings’ purple and black, including two starters and five rotational players. A new coach. A new roster. A new offense. A new defense. None of that matters when the ball gets tipped. The NBA schedule waits for no one.
The Suns have made subtle tweaks to a roster that won just 23 games last season. But they come into the season mostly healthy and ready to prove that 2015-16 was the beginning of a build in Phoenix.
Suns by 2.5
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Ty Lawson vs. Eric Bledsoe -- Lawson is getting a career re-boot in Sacramento and a golden opportunity to shine during the team’s first eight games as a starter. He’ll face the high-scoring, but injury-prone Bledsoe that suited up in just 31 games last season. Bledsoe is an explosive and powerful athlete. Lawson is quick and will look to set up others.
Kings: G Darren Collison (league suspension) out.
Suns: F P.J. Tucker (back) questionable.
The Kings won the season series 3-1 last year, including the final three contests. Phoenix leads the all-time series 130-88 and they hold an 83-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.
“I have one goal, that’s playoffs. That’s success for me right now.” -- DeMarcus Cousins