Rejoice basketball fans — NBA is back. In case you missed any of Tuesday’s opening night action, you can find brief recaps of the games below.
Orlando Magic 87-97 Indiana Pacers
The first game of the season featured the Pacers hosting a young Orlando team. For most part the Magic kept the game competitive, going into the halftime break with a four-point lead, but the second half belonged to the Pacers.
With Danny Granger sidelined, three players in particular stepped up for Indiana — Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson. Stephenson is still trying to prove that he is worthy of keeping his starting spot and made his case with a 19-point, seven-rebound and five-assist statline. Hibbert only took six shots through the whole game and eventually hobbled off the floor with a minor knock on his knee but the big man also stepped up. He scored eight points, grabbed 16 rebounds and blocked seven (!) shots. George led the team with 24 points.
Hibbert wasn’t the only one having a block party, as Indiana collectively denied 18 shots, with David West recording five blocks of his own.
With Glen Davis still out of action, Andrew Nicholson made most of his minutes and led Orlando with 18 points on 8-10 shooting. Outside of Nicholson, Orlando couldn’t quite find consistency and get through the Pacers defense, which led to a 38.7 field goal percentage.
Chicago Bulls 95-107 Miami Heat
As soon as the banner was raised and the rings were delivered, it was all business for the reigning champs. After a rocky first quarter, the Heat took off in the second. Ray Allen, Shane Battier and other Miami sharpshooters simply couldn’t miss in the second period, which allowed the Heat to go on a 17-0 run and win the twelve-minute stretch 37-18.
The Bulls battled back in the fourth quarter, scoring 37 points of their own in the final period, but it was too little too late.
The champions put up a very balanced performance. Erik Spoelstra gave minutes to nine of his players and seven of them reached double-digits.
Derrick Rose struggled in his regular season debut, shooting 4-15 and turning the ball over five times. The former MVP got help from Jimmy Butler (20 points) and Carlos Boozer (31 points) but Chicago couldn’t keep up with Miami’s three-point shooting. The Bulls shot 26.9% from beyond the arc, while Miami’s 55% accuracy allowed them to start the season off with a victory.
Los Angeles Clippers 103 – 116 Los Angeles Lakers
Before the game tipped off, the general consensus was that the Clippers are now reigning over L.A. and would put Lakers in their place. The Lakers were having none of that.
Kobe Bryant was still out and the Lakers starting lineup looked bleak — Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Nick Young, Shawne Williams and Pau Gasol. Despite fielding an inferior team, the Lakers traded blow for blow for three straight quarters, until the team’s reserves delivered the sucker punch and a wake-up call to the Clippers in the fourth quarter, winning the final period 41-24.
Pau Gasol got off to a great start and finished the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds, but Xavier Henry led the way with 22 points and six assists.
Doc Rivers’ comments after the game perfectly summed up the result.
“We were not ready tonight,” Rivers said. “I told our guys before the game. Those are pros on the other side and they’ve been told for months how good you’re going to be, how they’re not going to be good and they’re not going to have Kobe and all that stuff. You know they were going to play like this is the world championship, with that type of energy, and we never matched it.”