LeBron James scored 20 points - including 16 in the first half - but the Los Angeles Lakers fell to a 114-111 loss to the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai on Thursday.
The game went ahead despite the ongoing furore in China sparked by Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey's tweet that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
James connected on 7-of-15 shots and recorded six rebounds and a pair of assists before leaving the game with 4:37 remaining in the third quarter with the Lakers leading 75-73.
His final basket came on a fast break generated by strong defense from Anthony Davis, who blocked a shot into the hands of Javale McGee, who then instigated a transition move ultimately rounded off by a James lay-up.
The Nets, who lost star signing Kyrie Irving a minute into the game after the guard was caught in the face by the upper arm of Rajon Rondo, were paced by Spencer Dinwiddie's 20 points and seven assists off the bench.
Brooklyn outscored the Lakers 30-24 in the final period and led by five points heading into the game's final minute. The Lakers rallied with a three-pointer and two free throws from Zach Norvell, but Alex Caruso's turnover with 13.9 seconds remaining wasted their final chance to take the lead. David Nwaba's dunk extended Brooklyn's lead to 114-111. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope's three-pointer at the buzzer could have forced overtime but his shot was off target.
In another preseason clash, the Houston Rockets beat the Toronto Raptors 118-111 in the second and final game in the NBA Japan Games at Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo.
Russell Westbrook and James Harden scored 22 points apiece as Mike D'Antoni's team overturned an eight-point half-time deficit to avenge their 134-129 defeat in the opening game of the exhibition series on Tuesday.
Norman Powell scored a team-high 22 points for the defending NBA champions, while Pascal Siakam added 16 on 6-of-11 shooting.