CHICAGO – Joakim Noah scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and the Chicago Bulls got off to a good start without Derrick Rose, beating the Sacramento Kings 93-87 Wednesday in the season opener.
Richard Hamilton added 19 points, while Carlos Boozer chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Bulls are out to show they can get by while their superstar recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, and this was promising even if it was a struggle.
Chicago led by 14 after a 10-0 run in the third quarter and hung on in the fourth after the Kings closed within three several times.
A basket by Sacramento’s Tyreke Evans (21 points) cut it to 86-83 with 41.2 seconds left, but Luol Deng hit 1 of 2 free throws.
Evans couldn’t get the ball in bounds, resulting in a five-second violation. That led to two free throws for Hamilton to make it 89-83 with 32.9 seconds left, and the Bulls hung on from there.
Along with the points and rebounds, Noah set a career high with five steals. He also blocked three shots.
Hamilton was relentless after being sidelined for much of last season by injuries, and Boozer was effective down the stretch scoring seven points in the fourth.
That included a neat three-point play off a miss by Noah in which he crashed to the court and then hit the free throw, making it 86-78 with 2:45 remaining.
The Kings, who are trying to make a jump after six straight losing seasons, got 15 points from Marcus Thornton and 14 from DeMarcus Cousins.
ROCKETS 105, PISTONS 96: In Auburn Hills, Mich., James Harden had 37 points and 12 assists in a stirring debut for Houston, and Carlos Delfino made four three-pointers in the fourth quarter to lift the Rockets.
Detroit led 83-72 early in the fourth, but Harden and Delfino brought the Rockets back.
Harden fell just short of his career high of 40 points, and his 12 assists were a career best.
Brandon Knight led Detroit with 15 points.
76ERS 84, NUGGETS 75: In Philadelphia, Spencer Hawes had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Philadelphia.
Hawes turned back the Nuggets in the fourth quarter with a string of big baskets and blocked shots. He had five blocks in the game. Jrue Holiday had 14 and 11 assists, and Dorell Wright scored 14 points.
The Sixers won the opener with center Andrew Bynum out with a bone bruise on his right knee.
SPURS 99, HORNETS 95: In New Orleans, Tim Duncan scored 24 points, Tony Parker hit a huge three-pointer, and San Antonio opened with a victory in the debut for top draft pick Anthony Davis.
Davis scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds, a promising start for the player who spent only one year at Kentucky, leading the Wildcats to the national title.