The NBA made one of Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive’s biggest hopes a reality.
And a long-awaited debut in India went longer than planned.
T.J. Warren hit the shot that put Indiana ahead for good with 1:03 remaining, and the Pacers beat the Kings 132-131 in overtime on Friday in the first NBA game ever played in India.
A three-game schedule Friday included the Houston Rockets-Los Angeles Clippers in Honolulu and the Brooklyn Nets hosting Brazilian club Franca.
The significance of the Kings-Pacers event was enormous for Ranadive, a native of India.
“This is a historic day, but for me it’s a dream come true,” Ranadive said at a news conference before the game in Mumbai. “I left Bombay when I was 17 years old and literally I had $50 in my pocket, so to come back here with my NBA team and also bring my friend (Indiana owner) Herb Simon with his team and to play an actual NBA game is beyond my wildest, wildest imagination.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum were also at the game, which the league pulled off in a smaller-than-usual arena in part by bringing in a court, scoreboards, seats and even putting together locker rooms.
The Pacers and Kings will play again there Saturday. The league is also playing preseason games in China and Japan this season.
“I get so excited about it because it’s all opportunity,” Tatum said. “It’s all opportunity that we see in terms of growing this game of basketball and growing the NBA on a global basis. The time is now to take advantage of these opportunities. We have people on the ground in these places who are very, very capable.”
The league has an NBA Academy and an NBA Basketball School – a tuition-based development program – in India already, with plans to add more. But bringing the actual game to India is certainly one of the biggest steps in growing the game in a country that’s on track to pass China as the most populous in the world within a decade.
“These games are not just a one-time thing,” Tatum said. “We will continue to build off of this.”
Friday’s preseason games:
Rockets 109, Clippers 96
In Honolulu, the Los Angeles Clippers’ new superstar duo isn’t available yet, and the Houston Rockets aren’t ready to use theirs.
At some point, those will be two of the teams that following a summer of change around the NBA can put a pair of All-Stars into a championship-contending lineup.
In the meantime, James Harden can still deliver a dazzling one-man show.
The league’s leading scorer had 37 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and a role in the league’s new coach’s challenge, leading Houston to a 109-96 victory over the Clippers.
Houston gave Russell Westbrook another game off while he recovers from knee surgery in the spring, hoping to get the former Oklahoma City point guard onto the floor when it heads to Japan to play a pair of exhibition games against Toronto.
Los Angeles is easing Kawhi Leonard into the season after he led the Raptors to the NBA championship, and Paul George is still recovering from shoulder surgery and not ready for contact.
Pacers 132, Kings 131, OT
Warren scored 30 points for Indiana, Domantas Sabonis scored 21 and Malcolm Brogdon had 14 assists for the Pacers – who rallied from a 21-point first-half deficit and outscored the Kings 7-0 in the final 73 seconds of regulation just to force overtime.
Jeremy Lamb added 20 for Indiana, which won despite never holding a lead in the final three quarters of regulation.
Buddy Hield scored 28 points and Harrison Barnes added 21 for Sacramento.
Nets 137, Sesi Franca 89
Taurean Prince made six 3-pointers and scored 22 points in his first game for the Nets, who opened their preseason by pulling away from their Brazilian opponents.
Prince, acquired last spring in a trade with Atlanta that helped clear enough salary cap space to afford two top players, shot 8 for 10 from the field while starting at forward. David Nwaba, another newcomer, added 18 points.
The Nets showed off their new floor and locker room at Barclays Center but will have to wait to debut the real reasons for their excitement this season. Kyrie Irving sat out after sustaining a facial fracture shortly before the beginning of training camp. Kevin Durant is expected to miss the season while he recovers from surgery to repair his Achilles tendon.
There’s still plenty of firepower for the Nets, who play their next two exhibition games in China against the Los Angeles Lakers. Dzanan Musa also scored 18 points and Caris LeVert had 13 points and nine assists.
Rafael Hettsheimeir made his first eight 3-pointers and finished with 26 points for Franca. David Jackson added 18.
Coach Helio Ruben-Garcia played in the game the first time a Brazilian team faced an NBA club, in the 1999 McDonald’s Open in Milan, Italy against the San Antonio Spurs.
Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney contributed to this report
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