By Holly MacKenzie
Big night in the NBA…I still do not have league pass, so I got to see ohhh, none of it. Give me a week or so and I promise I will be immersed and informed. For the time being, tell me the interesting stuff that my recaps don’t say. Boxscores can only tell so much. You will notice there isn’t a recap for the Chicago/New Jersey game and that is because we are going to be gifted with game notes from Russ, Lang and Jake, so sit pretty while you wait for those to be posted! I’m in a pretty good mood this morning, because I’ve got a busy day ahead. I’m making a quick trip to Seattle to catch the Sonics play host to Phoenix. Should be interesting to compare the difference between the final game played in preseason and the season opener for the Suns. I can’t believe I am going to be seeing these teams go at it again, only a week later. It’s like that awful movie Groundhog Day, only this is the type of repetition I could deal with again…and again…and again.
Orlando 102 Milwaukee 83
Orlando Magic fans were treated to an offensive show put on by newly acquired forward Rashard Lewis. In a 102-83 thrashing of the Bucks, Lewis did the job that was asked of him and led his new team with 26 points on 9-13 shooting. 12 of those 26 points came from beyond the three-point line, which proved golden for the Magic as it resulted in the spreading of Milwaukee’s defense, opening things up for Dwight Howard underneath the basket. Lewis was not the only Magic player to light up the scoreboard. Hedo Turkoglu joined in on the fun with 24 points, including three three-pointers himself. The Magic as a team shot 54% from downtown, and hit a bunch in the third quarter where they outscored the Bucks 35 to 16 on their way to the victory. Howard finished with 16 points 12 boards and a game high 7 blocked shots. For Milwaukee, Michael Redd had 25 points and Bobby Simmons added 16. Rookie Yi Jianlian had 9 points on 4-5 shooting in his NBA debut.
Toronto 106 Philadelphia 97
The Toronto Raptors started their season as defending Atlantic Division champions on a good note. In a 106-97 victory against Philadelphia the Raptors returning core continued to build on their chemistry and took down the 76ers along the way. Led by Andrea Bargnani and his 20 points, the Raptors point guard tandem of TJ Ford and Jose Caulderon picked up where they left off last season and the two combined for 27 points and 16 assists with only 2 turnovers between them. That efficiency came in handy as the Raptors had only 10 turnovers for the game, as compared to 17 for Philadelphia. Raptor fans were happy to see a healthy Chris Bosh score 16 points and get up for an alley-oop, showing his knee is feeling good. While the Raptors were up by as many as 22 points in the 3rd, Philadelphia went on a run behind Andre Iguodala and his 23 points to cut the lead to 14 going into the final quarter. Halfway through, Iguodala brought the 76ers to within one with just under 5 minutes left to play. Bargnani scored the biggest play of the game, when he knocked down a three-pointer while being fouled by Samuel Dalembert. Once he hit the resulting free throw, the Raptors were back up by 5 and held onto the lead the rest of the way. Kyle Korver finished with 20 points in the loss while Andre Miller had 17 and Willie Green chipped in with 15.
New Orleans 104 Sacramento 90
In their first regular season game back in New Orleans, the Hornets gave the fans something to smile about in a 104-90 win over the Sacramento Kings. Chris Paul came out strong and led his team with 22 points and 12 assists. Tyson Chandler gave his team a big boost, going for 15 and 13 . New Orleans was happy to see Peja Stojakovic contribute immediately, finishing with 19 points after missing almost all of last season due to back surgery. After getting down by double digits in the first half, Sacramento could not get the defensive stops needed to get back into the game. This was largely a result of Ron Artest being out serving the 1st of a seven game suspension to start the season. The Kings were also without Mike Bibby, so they were limited on offense as well as defense and simply could not overcome their absences. Kevin Martin was the leading scorer for the game in the loss, with 26 points while John Salmons had 22 and Francisco Garcia added 17. Newly acquired guard Morris Peterson had 13 points for the Hornets and David West scored 17.
San Antonio 104 Memphis 101
In the second game of a back to back the Spurs prevailed over Memphis 104-101. In a game where neither team led by more than 7 points throughout, things were tied up at 95 with 1:52 left on the clock before Manu Ginobili took over with 9 crucial points in the final minutes including hitting 7-8 from the free throw line. After 17 ties and 16 lead changes the Spurs managed to grind out the victory. Ginobili led all scorers with 30 while Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each added 17. Pau Gasol had 22 points for the Grizzlies and Damon Stoudamire scored 18. Rudy Gay contributed 16 points and Mike Miller had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Dallas 92 Cleveland 74
The Dallas Mavericks ruined Cleveland’s opening night by trouncing them 92-74 after they raised their Eastern Conference champions banner. While the Mavericks are known more for their offense than defense, it was the defense on LeBron James that enabled them to run away with the game, holding James scoreless in the entire first half. James finished with only 10 points on the night, while he was hampered by foul trouble for much of the game. With Jason Terry connecting on six three-pointers, Jerry Stackhouse finishing with 17 and Dirk Nowitzki adding 15, the Cavs were unable to withstand LeBron’s tough offensive night even with a huge game from Zydrunas Illgauskas and his 17-point 18-rebound double-double. The Cavs were down by 20 at the half and that is the way It remained for much of the 2nd half. James shot 2-11 for the game for his worst opening night performance yet. Larry Hughes had 12 in the loss for Cleveland.
Denver 120 Seattle 103
While no one is expecting Kevin Durant to lead the Sonics to greatness this season, they are expecting him to score. While he did not shoot particularly well, shoot he did. Durant finished with 18 points in his NBA debut, but they came on a dismal 7-22 from the floor. In the 120-103 loss to the Nuggets, Durant faced a tough first game match up in Carmelo Anthony who led all scorers with 32 points in Denver’s win. In a game that had Seattle leading 79-78 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, things began to fall apart for the young Sonics. Denver put on the defensive clamps, and at the same time, fired up their offense for the rest of the game. The Nuggets went on a 28-11 run headlined by Linas Kleiza and his four three-pointers in the span. Damien Wilkins finished with 21 points for the Sonics and Delonte West had 19 as they played without forward Kurt Thomas. Allen Iverson finished with 25 points, 14 assists and made up for his 7 turnovers by adding 7 steals for the Nuggets. Kleiza finished with 18 points,
Indiana 119 Washington 110 OT
The Indiana Pacers high-scoring offense has continued into the regular season as evidenced by their 119-110 overtime victory against the Washington Wizards. It was point guard Jamaal Tinsley who led the way for the Pacers scoring 16 points in the 4th quarter and overtime before finishing with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. Mike Dunleavy was the leading scorer for Indiana with 25 points (and also 12 boards), while Danny Granger had a solid game of 20 and 12. In the extra period, the Pacers took advantage, scoring under pressure on one end and coming up with big defensive stops on the other. In regulation it was Tinsley who hit two free throws with 6.8 seconds left in the game to put Indiana up by three, 103-100. Gilbert Arenas who took the final shot, getting a three to drop after missing his previous six attempts, tying the game at 103 and sending the game to overtime. Arenas had a big game for the Wizards, finishing with a game high 34, 13 of those coming from the line where he had a game high 19 free throw attempts. Antawn Jamison had a huge game for the Wizards with 27 points and 16 boards, Caron Butler added 19 and 11 and Brendan Haywood gave 10 points and 13 boards but it wasn’t enough as Indiana prevailed, scoring 16 points in the extra period.