Lakers-Clippers, Durant-Warriors set for NBA opening night

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Kevin Durant

FILE- In this March 10, 2020, file photo, Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant watches during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers in Los Angeles. Kevin Durant is finally within weeks of suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets. Sidelined last season while recovering from surgery on his Achilles tendon, he begins training camp this week on a team that can contend for the NBA title if he can be as good as he was before his injury. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, file)

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Durant is scheduled to make his Brooklyn debut against his former Golden State teammates before the Lakers begin their title defense in an all-Los Angeles matchup with the Clippers in the NBA’s Dec. 22 opening-night doubleheader.

The Lakers will be back in action against the Dallas Mavericks on Dec. 25 as one of five games on the Christmas lineup.

The NBA announced the national TV schedule for the first three nights of the season on Wednesday. The complete schedule for the first half of the season, shortened to 72 games because of the coronavirus, will be released Friday.

The opening-night games on TNT will be played without fans in the arenas, as both New York and Los Angeles are prevented from having them because of virus restrictions.

Though the 2019-20 season didn’t end until October, the NBA’s hurry to start the 2020-21 campaign allows it to play on Christmas, when it traditionally draws some of its strongest viewership.

The schedule on ESPN and ABC that day: New Orleans at Eastern Conference champion Miami, Golden State at Milwaukee, Brooklyn at Boston, Dallas at the Lakers, and the Clippers at Denver.

The Nuggets rallied from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals, preventing the two L.A. teams from playing for the right to reach the NBA Finals.

“The way we ended our season leaves a bad taste in our mouth, so to go to Denver on Christmas and play a good team, it’ll be a good test for us,” new Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said.

Instead, the Staples Center tenants will meet on opening night after Durant is expected to play for the first time since Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. He ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing for the Warriors that night and left for Brooklyn as a free agent that summer.

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AP Sports Writer Beth Harris in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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