Kobe Bryant had nine points and eight rebounds in his NBA season debut for the Lakers, but Amir Johnson lifted the Toronto Raptors to a 106-94 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday.
Bryant began his 18th NBA season by going two for nine with four assists and eight turnovers in 28 minutes. The fourth-leading scorer in NBA history hadn’t played since tearing his achilles tendon in April, undergoing several months of rehabilitation to return for the Lakers’ 20th game of the new season.
But the Lakers never led, and Toronto improbably snapped their five-game losing streak despite playing without forward Rudy Gay, who is expected to be traded to Sacramento on Monday as the centerpiece of an apparent seven-player deal.
Johnson bagged a career-high 32 points, Kyle Lowry had 23 points and eight assists, and DeMar DeRozan added 10 of his 26 points in the final 4:35 of the Raptors’ first road win over the Lakers in 11 tries since December 28, 2001.
Nick Young scored 19 points for the Lakers, who went 10-9 without Bryant this season, forging a winning record without the five-time NBA champion and with little help from fellow injured MVP Steve Nash.
Boston’s Jordan Crawford scored 23 points as the Celtics had the most-lopsided victory in the NBA this season, battering the New York Knicks 114-73.
Jared Sullinger added 21 points for the Celtics, who jumped to leads of 12-0, 18-1 and 25-3 and improved their Atlantic Division-leading record to 10-12.
At Auburn Hills, Michigan, LeBron James had 24 points, nine assists and seven rebounds as the Miami Heat cruised past the Pistons 110-95, avenging a home loss to Detroit less than a week ago.
The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Indiana Pacers 118-94 after Kevin Durant had 36 points and 10 rebounds, while Dwight Howard celebrated his 28th birthday with 20 points and 22 rebounds in the Houston Rockets’ 98-88 win over the Orlando Magic.