Protesters handed out T-shirts and held up signs in support of Hong Kong on Wednesday night when the Washington Wizards hosted a team from the Chinese Basketball Association.
The Wizards beat the Guangzhou Long-Lions 137-98 in a game that included more than a half-dozen protests inside Capital One Arena over the NBA’s ongoing rift with the Chinese government.
Protesters handed out “Free Hong Kong” T-shirts on the street outside the arena before the exhibition game. The protesters, who said they were from Freedom House, held up signs reading, “Shame the NBA,” “South Park was right” and “Memo to the NBA: Principles over profit! No censorship! USA loves Hong Kong.”
The problems between the NBA and China began after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a tweet last week that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
The NBA has not apologized for Morey’s remarks.
A Freedom House spokeswoman said some members were planning to protest inside during the game. A spokeswoman for Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation said the group was planning to hand out T-shirts inside the arena during the game in various sections close to the court.
Inside the arena, there were a handful of disruptions in the crowd.
After the playing of the Chinese national anthem, one fan shouted, “Freedom of expression! Freedom of speech! Free Hong Kong!” Another fan shouted for a free Hong Kong from the second level during the second quarter.
Minutes later, security approached one fan holding up a “Free Tibet” sign and another holding the Tibet flag. Security tried to take the sign, and the fan refused to give it up. Security then followed them from their seats and out of the lower bowl.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said that he heard one protester at the end of the Chinese national anthem.
“Other than that, I didn’t hear it,” Brooks said. “I was focused on the game.”
Brooks said he didn’t hear any of his players talk about the protests and he never mentioned it to his players.
A Wizards spokesman said in a statement: “The building security staff removed signs tonight in accordance with Capital One Arena’s long-standing signs, banners, posters and flag policy. No fans were asked to leave the game.”
A similar scene played out in Philadelphia on Tuesday during a game between Guangzhou and the 76ers. Two fans were removed by arena security for holding signs and chanting in support of Hong Kong.
CJ Harris had 25 points in the loss for the Chinese team.
Pelicans 127, Bulls 125
Zion Williamson was 12 of 13 from the field for 29 points to help the Pelicans rally from a 23-point deficit.
Nickeil Alexander-Walker made a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:34 remaining before hitting two free throws to seal it for New Orleans (2-0). He finished with 13 points and seven assists, and Jahlil Okafor also scored 13 points.
New Orleans scored 27 points in the first 6:16 of the fourth quarter, finishing with 41.
Zach LaVine hit 10 of 16 shots, with four 3-pointers, for 28 points for Chicago (0-2). Otto Porter Jr. had 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Pistons 124, Mavericks 117
Derrick Rose had 18 points and five assists off the bench, Blake Griffin added 17 points and five rebounds, and the Pistons spoiled Kristaps Porzingis’ debut with the Mavericks.
Luke Kennard was one of seven Detroit (1-1) players in double figures with 19 points, going 5 for 6 from 3-point range. Andre Drummond added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Porzingis and Luka Doncic led the way for Dallas (0-2). Porzingis had 18 points and seven boards in 19 minutes in his first game since tearing his ACL in February 2018, and Doncic added 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Heat 108, Hornets 94
Dion Waiters, Davon Reed and Duncan Robinson each made four 3-pointers as the Heat went 15 of 37 from distance in a win over the Hornets.
Waiters scored all of his 19 points in the first half, and Robinson sank his 3s in the third quarter for 12 of his 14 points. Reed also scored 14, going 4 of 5 from deep. The Heat (2-0) closed the first half on a 22-8 run for a 21-point lead.
Terry Rozier scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half for the Hornets (0-2).
Magic 97, Hawks 88
Terrence Ross scored 20 points, making four 3-pointers, to help Orlando top Atlanta. Jonathan Isaac added 13 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals for Orlando (3-0).
Trae Young had 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but also turned it over nine times for Atlanta (0-2). Rookie De’Andre Hunter added 13 points.
Bucks 133, Jazz 99
Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez each added 14 points for the Bucks (2-0).
Tony Bradley had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz (1-1). Donovan Mitchell scored 14 points.
AP Sports Writer Stephen Whyno in Washington contributed to this report.
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