Boston 88, Miami 80: The Celtics played suffocating defense and the Heat looked dreadful from opening tip to the final whistle, shooting a meek 36 percent in losing its much-hyped opener in the Garden.
There’s still 81 games left to play, but the takeaway from this is that Boston’s much more cohesive (despite 18 turnovers) at both ends, has a significantly better bench (Kendrick Perkins still isn’t healthy and didn’t play), and Rajon Rondo still can’t shoot, but he certainly is a Top 5 point guard in the league (17 assists; Miami had 15 as a team). LeBron had 31 and helped the Heat claw within three late, but a Ray Allen corner triple ended the threat. D Wade looked terrible, shooting 4-of-16. Wouldn’t want to be the 76ers tonight, because Wade and Chris Bosh (3-for-11) are going to want to silence every pundit/columnist/fan/blogger in the country who is doubting them after last night’s ugly performance.
Miami will get its 58, 60 regular-season victories, but it won’t get through Boston or Orlando unless James understands that this Miami franchise under Pat Riley can have transformative powers.
Portland 106, Phoenix 92: Guess Steve Nash knew what he was talking about, huh? Maybe the Suns aren’t playoff material? Eh, it’s only one game. The Suns and their refurbished frontline couldn’t hang with the Blazers, getting destroyed on the glass (48-30; 18-7 on the offensive end) and caving in the final nine minutes. Nicolas Batum (19-11) and Marcus Camby (13-10) turned in double-doubles, Brandon Roy led the Blazers with 24, and newbie Wes Matthews scored 13 off the bench. Phoenix really could have used an inside presence … yes, Tom Chambers qualifies.
LA Lakers 112, Houston 110: The heroes? Reserves Shannon Brown (16 points) and Steve Blake (10 points), who shot a combined 7-of-9 from three. If those two can play pivotal minutes this year, keeping Kobe and Fisher fresh for the postseason, the Lakers will be the best in the West. Blake even played excellent defense on Aaron Brooks in the final seconds, sealing the victory. Ron Artest made just 3-of-15 shots. Yao Ming rode a bike to stay fresh, and gave some dap to a fan in the process.
[Vid via @Jose3030]