NEW YORK — LeBron James will play his first game since rejoining the Cavaliers at home Oct. 30 against New York, then return to Miami for the first time on Christmas.

The NBA regular season will open Oct. 28, with the NBA champion Spurs hosting the Mavericks. The Magic will take on the Pelicans during the same time slot and the Rockets visit the Lakers to close out the night.

The Suns begin their season the next night at 7 p.m. in Los Angeles, taking on Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

James’ return to Miami is in the third spot on the five-game Christmas schedule, traditionally a highlight of the NBA season.  The other games are: Washington at New York; Oklahoma City at San Antonio in a rematch of the Western Conference finals; the Lakers at Chicago; and Golden State at the Clippers.

The last game before the All-Star break in New York is Feb. 12, when the Cavaliers visit the Bulls. The regular season doesn’t resume until the following Thursday, two days later than usual, with a doubleheader on TNT.

If a Kevin Love trade to Cleveland is completed, his return to Minnesota would be Jan. 31.

The NBA has two international games scheduled: Houston-Minnesota in Mexico City (Nov. 12) and New York-Milwaukee in London (Jan. 15).

WNBA: Mercury fall to East-leading Dream

ATLANTA — Rookie Shoni Schimmel scored a season-high 24 points and Atlanta beat Phoenix 96-82 Wednesday night to clinch the No. 1 seed in the East.

Erin Phillips scored 21 points to lead the Mercury (27-5), who have already secured the top spot in the West and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Shay Murphy had 11 points and Tiffany Bias added 10.

Both Diana Taurasi and Penny Taylor were healthy scratches for the Mercury, who had won 21 of 22 games.

Rim shots

  • A California appeals court has shot down Donald Sterling’s latest effort to block the $2 billion sale of the Clippers to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

The 2nd Appellate District Court issued a brief ruling Wednesday saying there was nothing it could do because the team had been sold.

  • Former NBA No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden is free to leave Indiana while he awaits trial on charges he punched his ex-girlfriend in the face as long as he remains on GPS monitoring, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Oden is charged with battery resulting in serious bodily injury and two misdemeanor battery counts.