The NBA: And So This Is Christmas

The Dallas Mavericks received their rings on Christmas day,
then were rudely awakened by the Miami Heat.
(image by the AP)

After the JUMP, mirco-commentaries on each of today’s season-openers:

NYK over BOS, 106-104
MIA over DAL, 105-94
CHI over LAL, 88-87
OKC over ORL, 97-89
LAC over GSW, 105-86

Why NYK Won: Carmelo Anthony came up big late in the game, hitting a triple to tie the count at 100 then clinching the win with 2 freebies as the Knicks gained a measure of revenge against the team that ousted them last summer. Melo finished with 37 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals to start off the season in the Big Apple with a big bang. Amar’e Stoudemire helped him out with 21 markers while starting PG Toney Douglas stepped up with 19 points, though he shot just 8-of-19 from the field. Rookie Iman Shumpert had a good run with 11 points before getting taken out due to injury. Next up is Golden State (Thursday Manila time).
Why BOS Lost: Paul Pierce sat this one out, but the Cs still had a good chance to win. New acquisition Brandon Bass was superb off the bench, stuffing a double-double line with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Fantasy sleeper? Possibly. KG and Ray Allen also had good outings, combining for 35 points, 12 boards and 6 assists. It was Rajon Rondo, however, who was a beast on the sheet, making 31 points, handing out 13 dimes, grabbing 5 caroms and netting 5 swipes. KG, Rondo and Allen, though, also combined for 12 of Boston’s 18 turnovers. Next up is Miami (Wednesday Manila time).

Melo can only smile as the Knicks looked
good in their opening win against Boston.
(image by the AP)

Why MIA Won: The Heat probably felt the Mavs ruined their “destined championship party” in the previous season, so this time they went out and kinda returned the favor by ruining opening day in Dallas. LeBron James was a far cry from his mediocre self in the 2011 Finals, scoring 37 points, to go along with 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks. His Miami BFF, Dwyane Wade, also filled it up, producing 26 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in an unexpectedly overwhelming opening salvo against the defending NBA Champs. Nobody else scored in double figures, but it’s really because nobody had to. The outcome was certain before the last period even started. The third wheel of Miami’s Big 3, however, didn’t really produce big. Chris Bosh tallied just 4 points on 2-of-9 shooting, though he did get 7 boards. Next up is Boston (Wednesday Manila time).
Why DAL Lost: Methinks it’s not really because Dallas played awful, but because this Dallas team is not the same one we saw lift the Larry O’Brien trophy half a year ago. Without a slew of key pieces, the Mavs looked more rusty than golden just moments after hoisting their first NBA Championship banner in a rub-more-salt-in-the-wound ceremony. Neither of Mark Cuban’s biggest new guys, Vince Carter and Lamar Odom, really got anything going (they paired up for just 9 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists in a combined 33 minutes of action), and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki shot poorly (6-of-15 FG) for 21 points. It’s not the start Dallas fans paid to see, and they certainly won’t get treated to this kind of beating often, but this might be a harbinger of just how hard it’ll be to repeat, especially over a visibly more visceral Heat. Next up is Denver right after this one.

LeBron James and the Heat were all-business
as they ruined the Mavs' opening night plans.
(image by the AP)

Why CHI Won: Chicago shot well in the first half for a 7-point lead, squandered it with awful shooting in the 3rd canto, then had to lean on Derrick Rose capping off an improbable last-minute run to spoil the Lakers’ home opener. Phew. Rose’s one-handed runner over the outstretched arms of Pau Gasol with 4.8 seconds left bookended a 7-0 spurt to close the game and clinch the win. Rose did shoot well from the field, 9-of-13, to finish with 22 points. The forward duo of Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer contributed a combined 36 markers, 13 boards, 5 assists and 5 steals. Next up is Golden State right after this.
Why LAL Lost: Derrick Rose is the immediate cause, but a slew of changes to the once mighty Purple-and-Gold might be the just-as-significant underlying reason. No Phil Jackson. No Lamar Odom. No win on opening night. Kobe Bryant’s 28 points led the Lakers, but he did commit a team-high 8 turnovers. KB also grabbed 7 rebounds, had 6 assists and 2 steals. Pau Gasol produced 14 points and 8 rebounds while Steve Blake played marginally more minutes than Derek Fisher and scored a dozen markers. Next up is Sacramento right after this.

Derrick Rose's game-winner is one of the first
WOW moments of the new season.
(image by the AP)

Here's D-Rose hitting the game-winner over Gasol (and, no, Luol Deng did NOT travel):

Why OKC Won: Kevin Durant scored 30 points to tow the Thunder to win #1 in what might be the biggest season in the franchise’s recent history. Durant also had 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals, though he did make just 6 of his 11 charities. His dynamic duo runningmates in the backcourt, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, also produced good numbers. Harden had 19 points and 6 rebounds while Jet-Zero finished with 14 markers, 7 boards, 6 assists and 3 steals. The pair, though, shot just 10-of-28 from the floor. Next up is Minnesota right after this.
Why ORL Lost: Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammed took turns trying to contain Dwight Howard and they enjoyed a measure of success. Big Dwight had a double-double of 11 points with 15 rebounds, but he was just 4-of-12 from the field and 3-of-8 from the line. Ryan Anderson took up the scoring cudgels, hitting 6 treys for 25 points to go along with 10 boards. Jameer Nelson also did his part, making 18 points and handing out 6 assists. The Magic take on Houston next.

KD scorched Hedo and the Magic with 30 big ones.
(image by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Why LAC Won: The Clippers fell behind in the second quarter, but they found their bearings just in time to carve out the rout. Three guys scored in the 20s, led by Blake Griffin’s 22. Coach Vinny Del Negro’s new-look backcourt of Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups also hit their stride with 20 and 21 markers each. Caron Butler’s double-double of 11 points and 10 boards also helped no doubt. Overall, the Clips turned the ball over just 10 times against a supposedly defensive-minded Warriors squad. Next up is San Antonio (Thursday Manila time).
Why GSW Lost: Steph Curry was clearly less than stellar while Monta Ellis struggled with his shot as coach Mark Jackson was handed his first loss as the new Warriors head tactician. David Lee’s 21-point, 12-rebound effort was the lone bright spot for Golden State. Next up is Chicago right after.

CP3 and Blake Griffin connected well as the Clips start their
campaign by trampling over the Warriors.
(image by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

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