Morning Shootaround: Validation?

Howard at home on D, not in Big D
Rockets 113, Mavericks 105

It has only been two games, but there has to be the feeling that Dwight Howard has finally found a comfortable landing spot.

Pat Sullivan/AP/Beaumont EnterpriseHe told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports before the opener against Charlotte on Wednesday that he looked around at the players on the roster and the situation he was in and realized he was really in the place meant for him. The Rockets world is still kind of buzzing after Howard seemed really to get back to his roots in grabbing a career high-tying 26 rebounds in the opener.

Not even Mark Cuban doing his best to try and tweak Howard by saying his choice to go to Houston and join a team rather than an organization, like Dallas, could get in Howard's way. Right now, it is very much the Rockets team lifting Howard up and making him look good.

Howard struggled some offensively but continues to flourish again on the defensive end. He scored 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting to go with 16 rebounds. James Harden carried the offensive load with 34 points. Houston had a 16-point lead after the first quarter and seemed to have little reason to sweat any more.

The Mavericks got another solid scoring output from their main stars too.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points and Monta Ellis added 20. Neither shot very efficiently — 6 for 15 for Dirk and 7 for 19 for Monta — and the Mavericks had to rely on the bench to help them try to dig out of the hole. It did not quite work out.

Blazers ruin Shaw's opener
Trail Blazers 113, Nuggets 98

Winning home openers has been the trend throughout the NBA so far. The Nuggets, and their mile-high altitutde, will not be joining in that trend this season. The Trail Blazers scored 40 points in the second quarter to take control of the game and blow out the Nuggets. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds, getting 21 points and 12 rebounds from forward Wesley Matthews. That helped break down these newlook Nuggets.

Paul still dealing
Clippers 110, Kings 101

A night after scoring 40 points and dishing out 16 assists, how do you follow that up? Doc Rivers is asking Chris Paul to take on more of the offense and be more assertive to set the tone. So Paul might in line for a crazy statistical season with a coach who is willing to put his entire trust in him. Paul scored 26 points and dished out 10 assists as the Clippers rallied for a win at Sacramento.

Missing you
Spurs 91, Lakers 85

For the first time since 1996, a Lakers vs. Spurs matchup occurred without either Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan. It admittedly felt a bit odd. A lot of the edge in this one was gone. The Lakers raced out to an early lead and then it seemed the Spurs superior talent and experience helped them get back into the game and eventually win. Tony Parker had 24 points to lead the Spurs.

Hawks return to form
Hawks 102, Raptors 95

The Hawks should be a bit relieved that the Mavericks game seemed like an anomaly. Atlanta played "Hawks basketball" more in the home opener to get Mike Budenholzer his first win as a head coach. Al Horford had 22 points and 16 rebounds and Jeff Teague had 17 points and 12 assists. This is the balance the Hawks probably imagined. DeMar DeRozan led all scorers with 31 for the Raptors.


Bench boosts Bucks
Bucks 105, Celtics 98

Zaza Pachulia of all people scored 20 points off the bench, including a perfect 10 for 10 from the line, as the Bucks came from behind to defeat the Celtics. Milwaukee outscored Boston 34-15 in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. The Bucks scored scored 58 points in the second half while holding the Celtics to 35 points. Boston appears to be having more struggled trying to score than everyone initially though.

T'Wolves shock Thunder BIG
Timberwolves 100, Thunder 81

Minnesota is rolling in the early part of the season with a second home win and a big statement against a division rival. Minnesota got 24 points and 12 rebounds from Kevin Love and led from the get-go, getting a 34-19 first quarter lead. This is not the Thunder we are used to seeing. Kevin Durant had only 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting as the Thunder struggled to get much going offensively. It is not like the Wolves are considered a top defensive team.

Magic celebrate big win
Magic 110, Pelicans 90

The Magic kicked off their 25th Anniversary season by honoring Tracy McGrady. They then put a beat down on the New Orleans Pelicans with a suffocating defensive performance and a smooth, energetic offensive performance. Arron Afflalo scored 30 points as Orlando took as much as a 30-point lead. This was a blowout as the Pelicans struggled to convert around the basket on second chance opportunities.

Sixers do it again
76ers 109, Wizards 102

In case you did not think Philadelphia was for real . . . let Friday remind you anything can happen in the NBA. The Sixers, predicted to flirt with some infamous records, won again toppling the Wizards at Verizon Center on Friday. Thaddeus Young had 29 points and Evan Turner scored 23 points as Philadelphia shot better than 50 percent from the floor once again. That is right, the Sixers are 2-0.

Nets hold off Heat
Nets 101, Heat 100

Sometimes it takes Ray Allen missing a free throw late to get these kind of wins. Sometimes, no lead really feels safe when the Miami Heat are involved. Brooklyn nearly lost a 10-point lead in the final minutes and needed a fortuitous bounce from a missed Ray Allen free throw to hold off the Heat. In any case, the early season victory over Miami is sure to put a feather in Brooklyn's cap as they move forward with the season. Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson each had 19 points to lead the Nets in scoring..

Bledsoe delivers for Suns
Suns 87, Jazz 84

The Jazz fell to 0-2 on Friday when Eric Bledsoe hit a 3-pointer with 0.7 left. Bledsoe scored Phoenix's final 14 points after missing 10 of his first 11 shots. Like the Sixers in the East, the Suns are now a surprising 2-0 too. Despite shooting 37.3 percent from the floor in the game, Phoenix found a way to gut out a win against a very talented Utah team. Miles Plumlee continued to impress 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting.

Bobcats escape Cavs
Bobcats 90, Cavs 84

Kemba Walker scored 23 points, leading four Bobcats starters in double figures as the Bobcats won their home opener over the Cavaliers on Friday. Charlotte, playing without Al Jefferson, took a seven point lead after the first quarter and held on throughout the contest. Despite Charlotte scoring only 15 points in the fourth quarter, Cleveland managed only 18 points as the team failed to make the comeback bid.

Grizzlies come back to snipe Pistons
Grizzlies 111, Pistons 108, OT

The Grizzlies trailed by six points as regulation neared its end but came back behind some timely shooting and stops. The momentum carried over as Memphis opened the overtime on an 11-2 run and stole a victory from the Pistons. Mike Conley had 22 points and Tony Allen and Zach Randolph each added 16 in the win.

Warriors D-League Team with some brotherly love
Kings vs. Warriors, 10:30 p.m.

The Warriors' D-League affiliate is following the lead of its parent team. The Santa Cruz Warriors drafted Klay Thompson's brother Mychel Thompson in the D-League Draft conducted Friday. That means Mychel Thompson will pair up with Seth Curry on the Santa Cruz roster this year. Just like brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in the NBA.

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily