Wolves go unity in win over Magic
Timberwolves 120, Magic 115, OT
Before tip off of Wednesday's season opener at Target Center, Flip Saunders distributed commemorative coins to Timberwolves players, coaches and staff to signify the team's unity. The goals for this organization in their 25th season are very clear: return to the Playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett was traded to Boston.
If you go by the results of one game, it certainly looks possible.
The Timberwolves struggled to pull away from the Magic all game and found themselves down three with 12 seconds remaining. This would have been a time to crumble for past Minnesota teams. Not this one though.
A perfectly executed swinging fence play sprung Kevin Love open for three and he dropped in the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime. Kevin Martin and the Wolves came up big in the overtime to help them escape with a 120-115 victory over the Magic.
Love had 31 points and 17 rebounds to lead Minnesota to the victory, helping them stay together despite a mistake-filled second half and an unexpected deficit to the hard-charging Orlando team. Arron Afflalo had 28 points for the Magic. His turnaround jumper fell off the front rim in regulation that would have prevented overtime.
Kings get by Nuggets
Kings 90, Nuggets 88
The Kings tried to give the game away in the first home game with a new owner and a new lease on life — and in Sacramento. The Nuggets would not let the Sacramento fans go home unhappy, not on this night. Jason Thompson's dunk with 40 seconds left gave the Kings the lead by two points. The Nuggets then failed to make a few 3-pointers at the end giving the Kings the win.
Duncan hurt in Spurs win
Spurs 101, Grizzlies 94
Tim Duncan suffered a chest contusion and left the game with the decision well in hand as the Spurs easily won. That was the most immediate and pressing concern fro the defending Western Conference champions in this clash of the conference titans. San Antonio had its usual balanced effort in earning the win. Duncan's status moving forward though seemed most important.
Carter-Williams, Sixers steal one from Heat
76ers 114, Heat 110
Philadelphia got to compete with Miami for at least one night. A team that was expected to finish with possibly the worst record in NBA history stunned the NBA champions, putting on an offensive barrage in the first quarter to take a 20-point lead and then held on a 45-34 avalanche in the third quarter from the defending champs. Rookie Michael Carter-Williams scored 22 points, dished out 12 assists and recorded an NBA rookie debut record nine steals in the surprising victory.
Suns scorch Blazers
Suns 104, Trail Blazers 91
This game was never really in any doubt. Not with Mason Plumlee flying around the basket and the Suns running and hiding from the Playoff-hopeful Trail Blazers. Phoenix got 26 points and nine assists from Goran Dragic and shot 51.8 percent from the floor. That helped counteract a superstar turn from LaMarcus Aldridge (28 points) and Damian Lillard (32 points). Portland got little else from anyone other than those two.
Raptors contain Celtics
Raptors 93, Celtics 87
If the Raptors are going to make a push to make the Playoffs this season, performances like Wednesday's are going to be critical. Toronto had a 15-rebound edge on Boston to help maintain distance throughout and seal off a 93-87 win. Rudy Gay scored 19 points to lead the Raptors.
Thompson stat stuffs Nets
Cavaliers 98, Nets 94
Tristan Thompson switched from being a lefty to a righty this summer. The move impressed fellow Canadian national team member Andrew Nicholson as he watching Thompson put the work in during the summer. Against the Nets, Thompson showed all that work was put to good use. Thompson scored 18 points and grabbed nine rebounds. It was Kyrie Irving's ninth assist, to Anderson Varejao, which helped Cleveland secure an opening 98-94 win at Quicken Loans Arena.
Welcome Monta Ellis
Mavericks 118, Hawks 109
Monta Ellis had a strong Mavericks debut with 32 points as the Mavericks easily defeated the Hawks in the season opener. Dirk Nowitzki added 24 points too. If the offense is like this, Dallas is going to be tough to stop. The team shot 57.1 percent from the floor and 11 for 24 from beyond the arc. This is probably what Ellis had in mind when he signed on.
Howard back in debut
Rockets 96, Bobcats 83
If there were any doubts Dwight Howard was back or made a good decision going to Houston . . . well, there are still 81 of these things to go. So far one game is pretty good. Howard tied a career high with 26 rebounds and 17 points as the Rockets easily defeated the Bobcats. James Harden was big too with 21 points and five assists.
Paul George backs pacers in win
Pacers 95, Pelicans 90
Paul George and the Pacers do what good teams do: they found a way to win when they did not have their best stuff most of the night. George scored 32 points and came up with big plays in the fourth quarter to help the Pacers improve to 2-0. The Pelicans showed plenty of positive signs, but not enough to counteract the experience and defense from the Pacers.
Knicks hold off Bucks
Knicks 90, Bucks 83
When you have stars like Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, pulling out games can be easy. Chandler led the defense and Anthony the offense down the stretch as the Knicks won their opener 90-83. Melo ended up with 19 points and 10 rebounds. The Knicks lost a 25-point lead, but buckled down on defense at the end to secure the win in the fourth quarter.
Durant drops 40 on Jazz
Thunder 101, Jazz 98
Kevin Durant picked up right where he left off, scoring 42 points and making 22 of 24 free throws as the Thunder held on for a win on the road. That helped counteract a poor shooting night from the team as a whole. The Jazz got big performances from Alec Burks off the bench to help Utah make a game of it. But Durant is just Durant. Welcome to another year.
Mr. Big Shot is back
Pistons 113, Wizards 102
Warriors rock Lakers
Warriors 125, Lakers 94