Los Angeles - It wasn't a thing of beauty, in fact it was plain ugly, but the Houston Rockets will take it.
Yao Ming had 21 points with 10 rebounds and the Rockets struggled to beat the visiting Memphis Grizzlies 82-71 on Wednesday night, in the season opener for both teams.
"You're going to have games where you play great and be on Sports Centre," said Ron Artest, who added 16 points in his Rockets' debut. "You're going to have games when you play bad and get the win. If it was ugly and we're 1-0, we'll take it."
Tracy McGrady netted 16 points while Argentina's Luis Scola finished with 12 and 13 rebounds for the Rockets, who won despite shooting an icy 36.8 per cent (28-of-76) from the floor.
"The good thing is I don't think we can play worse offensively," Rockets coach Rick Adelman said. "Defensively we were good, but offensively we have a long way to go."
Rudy Gay scored 20 points, Spain's Marc Gasol had 12 with 12 rebounds while fellow-rookie Darrell Arthur finished with 11 and 15 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who dropped their eighth consecutive season opener.
With the Rockets up by four, McGrady spotted Rafer Alston, who was 1-for 7 up until then. However, he calmly buried the back-breaking 3-pointer with 37.2 seconds left, making it 78-71.
"I knew the ball was going to come back out at some point," Alston said. "I wanted to stay ready and be on the shot."
Added Alston: "It was a nasty looking game, but those are the games you want to win."
Phoenix Suns 103, San Antonio Spurs 98
Amare Stoudemire scored 22 points and Leandro Barbosa had 18 as the visiting Suns shaded the Spurs, in the regular-season opener for both teams.
Shaquille O'Neal chipped in with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Steve Nash finished with 13 points and 13 in Terry Porter's Phoenix coaching debut.
Tim Duncan and Tony Parker scored 32 points apiece for the Spurs, who were without Argentine stars Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto.
Atlanta Hawks 99, Orlando Magic 85
Joe Johnson scored 25 points while Josh Smith added 17 with 10 rebounds, helping the Hawks beat the host Magic, in the season opener for both teams.
Dwight Howard paced Orlando with 22 points and 15 rebounds.
New Jersey Nets 95, Washington 85
Vince Carter had 21 points and China's Yi Jianlian added 17 in his New Jersey debut, leading the Nets over the host Wizards, in the season opener for both clubs.
Antawn Jamison and DeShawn Stevenson topped the Wizards with 14 points apiece
Minnesota 98, Sacramento Kings 96
Al Jefferson had 21 points and 10 rebounds as the Timberwolves held off the visiting Kings, in the regular-season opener for both teams.
John Salmons topped the Kings with 24 points.
Milwaukee Bucks 98, Oklahoma City Thunder 87
Charlie Villanueva, Michael Redd and newcomer Richard Jefferson each scored 20 points as the Bucks ruined the first regular-season game for the Thunder, formerly the Seattle SuperSonics.
Chris Wilcox led the Thunder with 15 points.
Detroit Pistons 100, Indiana Pacers 94
Tayshaun Prince scored 19 points, Richard Hamilton had 15, including four game-clinching free throws in the final 20 seconds as the Pistons gave Michael Curry a successful coaching debut.
Danny Granger led the Pacers with 33 points
Toronto Raptors 95, Philadelphia 76ers 84
Chris Bosh collected 27 points with 11 rebounds while newcomer Jermaine O'Neal had 17 with eight boards, powering the visiting Raptors past the 76ers, in the season-opener for both clubs.
Louis Williams led Philadelphia with 16 points while Elton Brand finished with 14 and 13 rebounds in his Sixers debut.
New York Knicks 120, Miami Heat 115
Jamal Crawford poured in 29 points, including a pair of game-sealing free throws in the final seconds, and Zach Randolph added 20 as the Knicks held off the Heat, to give Mike D'Antoni a successful regular-season coaching debut.
Dwyane Wade had 26 points for the Heat, who failed to give Erik Spoelstra the victory in his NBA head coaching debut.
Utah Jazz 98, Denver Nuggets 94
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and 14 rebounds, and the Jazz regrouped after blowing a 14-point lead to beat the visiting Nuggets in the season-opener for both clubs.
Allen Iverson had 18 points to pace the Nuggets, who were without all-star Carmelo Anthony, serving the first of a two-game suspension from an off-season DUI arrest.
LA Lakers 117, LA Clippers 79
Reigning league MVP Kobe Bryant had 16 points and eight rebounds as the Lakers routed their co-Staples Centre tenants in the Clippers' season opener.
Baron Davis had 11 and seven assists in his Clippers' debut.
New Orleans Hornets 108, Golden State Warriors 103
Chris Paul had 21 points, 11 assists and the go-ahead layup with 19 seconds left, leading the visiting Hornets over the Warriors, in the season opener for both teams.
David West topped the Hornets with 24 points, while Corey Maggette had a game-high 27 points in his Warriors' debut. (dpa)