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NBA notes: Winning start for Kawhi Leonard with Raptors

Kawhi Leonard is finally back on the court and the Toronto Raptors should be happy with the results. Leonard scored 12 points in his first game with his new team and the Raptors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 122-104 on Saturday night in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the preseason opener for both teams.

Kawhi Leonard is finally back on the court and the Toronto Raptors should be happy with the results.

Leonard scored 12 points in his first game with his new team and the Raptors beat the Portland Trail Blazers 122-104 on Saturday night in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the preseason opener for both teams.

Leonard played 19 minutes and didn’t shoot particularly well, missing all four 3-pointers and going just 6 for 11 from the free throw line. But he played aggressively and moved well after being limited to just nine games last season for San Antonio because of a thigh injury. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP hadn’t played in a game since January.

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Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum each played the first quarter for Portland. Lillard scored 12 points and McCollum had nine.

Danny Green, who came from San Antonio with Leonard, was 1 for 6 and finished with five points in Toronto’s first game under new coach Nick Nurse.

Meyers Leonard led Portland with 16 points. Rookie Gary Trent Jr. scored eight points in 20 minutes. Portland led 33-32 after the only quarter it played with its starting backcourt.

Longtime Raptors starting center Jonas Valanciunas came off the bench to lead Toronto with 17 points. Kyle Lowry scored 15 points, playing the same 19:21 as Leonard.

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Anthony looking to make basketball fun again in Houston

Through the first week of camp with the Houston Rockets, all indications are that Carmelo Anthony will be OK coming off the bench if that’s the role coach Mike D’Antoni gives him.

That doesn’t mean the 10-time All-Star wants to discuss it.

“I don’t like talking about it,” Anthony said Saturday before the team’s last practice at McNeese State in Lake Charles, La. “People always been speculating. They always speculate so I will continue not to talk about it.”

While Anthony, who is in his first year with the Rockets after one tumultuous season in Oklahoma City, refused to discuss whether he’ll start or be a reserve, he had plenty to say about a variety of other subjects, candidly answering every other question thrown his way. He reflected on his year with the Thunder, a place where he never seemed to fit in and averaged a career-low 16.2 points in 78 starts.

He said he got “caught up” in outside opinions of what people believed he should do and recounted all the thoughts that were swimming through his head last season.

People saying, “‘Oh, he’s a stretch 4,” Anthony said. “’Oh, he should come off the bench. Oh, he should not shoot this many times. Oh, he should just let Russ (Westbrook) do this.’ So, it was just so much of that that was going around that I had to block it out and get away from it and not even think about it.”

For the record, how Anthony feels now is happy and invigorated about his fresh start in Houston. Entering his 16th NBA season, he’s is looking forward to helping the Rockets contend for a title after they fell to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals last season.

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“Just enjoy the game and play basketball. I’ve been doing it for a long time,” he said. “I still know how to do it. I’ve just got to make it fun. The game just has to be fun.”

Early on, he’s found that with the Rockets, where he’s been welcomed from Day 1. The transition has been eased by how eager stars like James Harden and Chris Paul have been to integrate him into what they’re doing.

“They already envision me being on this team and what I can do and my role on this team,” Anthony said. “So, it was easier for them to just bring me along and say, `This is where you should be, this is what you have to do,’ and that made my transition a lot easier.”


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