Washington: Jayson Tatum scored 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds while reserve Marcus Morris added 16 points as the Boston Celtics ripped Philadelphia 105-87 in the 2018-19 NBA season opener on Tuesday.
Jaylen Brown had 12 points, Al Horford added nine points and five blocked shots and Gordon Hayward contributed 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting with four steals in his return after breaking his left leg in last year's season opener.
"A lot to work on for me but the joy of being out here was amazing," said Hayward, adding, "it was so good to be out there, such a blessing I was able to play basketball again."
Hayward was playing limited minutes as he adjusts to being back after a year of rehabilitation, sharing time with Australian Aron Baynes for at least the season's first couple of weeks. "It's tough because I'm trying to build a rhythm because I've been out so long. But we have the depth on the team to do that so well," Hayward said.
Tatum had 13 points in the first half for the Celtics, who took advantage of injuries last season to have a stellar rookie NBA campaign. "I'm a lot more sure of myself and confident and just relaxed," he said, adding, "it's my second year. I knew what to expect. I was just happy to get back on the floor."
Hayward suffered the injury five minutes into last October's opener at Cleveland, but the Celtics went on to win 55 games and push Cleveland to seven games before falling in the Eastern Conference finals. When he left the game in the final seconds, Hayward was treated to a standing ovation by the crowd.
Kyrie Irving, who missed 20 games last season after leg injuries ended his season early, hit only 2-of-14 from the floor for seven points but passed out seven assists. "We were excited to have (Gordon) and Kyrie back," Tatum said.
Joel Embiid scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the 76ers while Australian guard Ben Simmons, last season's NBA Rookie of the Year, contributed 19 points, a game-high 15 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocked shots.
The 76ers went 52-30 last season, their best showing since 2001, to claim their first playoff berth since 2012, but lost to Boston in the second round. Boston began the third quarter with 14-5 run before Philadelphia ran off 10 consecutive points to climb back within 61-57, but another Celtics surge lifted the hosts ahead 77-66 entering the fourth quarter.
Boston took a 47-42 half-time lead, the 76ers stung by 11 first-half turnovers.
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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2018 09:52:12 IST