NBA Tip-Off: Heat roll, Lakers stumbleBy Alex H.
With Tuesday night’s tip-off, the 67th NBA campaign got underway, bringing with it the usual blend of excitement, contention and surprise.
With the Heat and Lakers favored in their respective conferences to make it to the NBA Finals this year, fans and critics alike got an early chance to see both teams in action Tuesday night, with mixed results.
Allen Gets the Cold Shoulder
Miami began the 2012-13 campaign with a championship ceremony celebrating last season’s title, the franchise’s second. Before the occasional fireworks could fade there were a few on-court fireworks to contend with.
First Celtics’ forward Kevin Garnett blanked former teammate and new Miami sharpshooter, Ray Allen. Garnett’s description of Allen as “dead to us now” was obviously no idle threat. This was followed later in the game by Rajon Rondo’s hard clothesline foul on Dwyane Wade. This was the type of contest the phrase ‘no love lost’ was coined for.
Miami jumped out to a big lead before Boston pulled it back to four late in the game. The Heat rode the storm and emerged 120-107 victor, beating the six-point spread in the process.
LeBron James tallied 26 points and 10 rebounds for Miami (1-0) before departing with cramp in the leg. Allen scored 19 against his former side. Rondo scored 20 and added 13 assists for Boston (0-1).
Mavs Upset Lakers
Tuesday’s big fixture out west saw the retooled Los Angeles Lakers host the Dallas Mavericks sans Dirk Nowitzki.
The Lakers’ preseason 0-8 record had a few that ponder such trends worried, but a win to open the season would be enough to erase any such worries. A win wasn’t forthcoming.
Dwight Howard played his first official game in gold and purple, tallying 19 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth. ‘Superman’ was anything but super at the free throw line, making just three of 14 attempts, a number that makes Shaquille O’Neal look like Mark Price.
The Lakers’ other high-profile newcomer, Steve Nash, had a debut to forget, scoring just seven points and passing four assists. Kobe Bryant – a game time decision – scored 22 points on 11-14 shooting, but didn’t make it to the free throw line.
Meanwhile, the Nowitzki-less Mavericks had five players in double digits, including the new backcourt combo of O.J. Mayo (12) and Darren Collison (18).
Dallas (1-0) will be happy with the result following a disappointing offseason, whilst the Lakers (0-1) will hope that its offense – which never really clicked in this one – picks up pronto.
Around the League
Yes, all of the attention was on Tuesday’s marquee matchups, but in the ‘real’ season opener, the backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined for 46 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers (1-0) defeated the undermanned Washington Wizards (0-1). Cavs center Anderson Varejao had a career-best 23 rebounds to go alongside nine points and nine rebounds, as the Ohio side won straight up and beat the spread.
After six teams debuted on Tuesday, another 16 will begin their campaign on Wednesday, including champion hopefuls, San Antonio.
Denver opens its season in Philadelphia. The two sides were involved in the Dwight Howard deal this past August, with the Sixers sending guard/forward Andre Iguodala to the Mile High City. Iguodala will be hoping for a warmer reception at his former stamping ground than Ray Allen received on Tuesday night.
Forget resting, the Mavericks and Lakers are both in action again Wednesday, visiting Utah and Portland respectively.
Despite the carnage left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Thursday’s season-opener at Barclays Center between Brooklyn and New York is still scheduled to take place. New York has confirmed that it will be without Amare Stoudemire – undergoing surgery on his left knee – for 6-8 weeks.
Schedule (Wednesday, October 31)
Indiana Pacers (-4) at Toronto Raptors (Total: 188)
Denver Nuggets (+1½) at Philadelphia 76ers (Total: 220)
Houston Rockets (+3) at Detroit Pistons (Total: 185)
Sacramento Kings (+7) at Chicago Bulls (Total: 188½)
San Antonio Spurs (-6½) at New Orleans Hornets (Total: 190)
Dallas Mavericks (-8) at Utah Jazz (Total: 188)
Golden State Warriors (+4½) at Phoenix Suns (Total: 204½)
Memphis Grizzlies (+4) at LA Clippers (Total: 186)
LA Lakers (-3) at Portland Trailblazers (Total: 190½)