The NBA begins another season with three matchups on opening night. Some highlights from around the courts:
HOME TEAM SUPREMECY: Opening night in the NBA led to three easy victories by the home teams. The Heat, Lakers and Pacers all came away with double digit wins. Indiana beat Orlando 97-87; Miami topped Chicago 107-95; and the Lakers beat the Clippers 116-103.
BATTLE FOR LA: No Kobe, no problem. The Los Angeles Lakers stunned the Clippers 116-103 as Xavier Henry and the reserves paved the way. With Kobe Bryant watching in street clothes behind Pau Gasol and Steve Nash on the Lakers’ bench, Jodie Meeks scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers spoiled Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ debut.
RETURN OF THE KING: LeBron James scored 17 points, Shane Battier made all four of his 3-point tries, and the Miami Heat took control with 17 straight second-quarter points on the way to spoiling Derrick Rose’s return and beating the Chicago Bulls 107-95 on Tuesday night.
The Heat trailed 9-2 early, then outscored Chicago 52-24 over the remainder of the first half and finished with seven players in double figures. Miami also contained Derrick Rose, who was playing his first game since injuring his knee in April 2012. Rose finished with 12 points in 34 minutes. Carlos Boozer carried the Bulls, scoring 31 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
EVERYBODY PLAYS: Mike D’Antoni said the Lakers might use 11 players in many games this season, since he saw little separation in training camp between the fourth and 11th players on his roster. He was true to his word in the first half of the season opener, using 11 players before halftime. The strategy continued as the reserves scored 76 of the team’s points.
MONEY MAY: Floyd Mayweather Jr. sat courtside at Staples Center next to Diddy. Boxing’s pound-for-pound champion recently bought an apartment across the street in a luxury development, and he spends much of his time between training camps in Hollywood.
At halftime, Mayweather shook hands with Steve Nash. Fans leaned around Mayweather’s imposing bodyguards to get photos.
NO KOBE: The Lakers opened a season without Kobe Bryant on the floor for the first time since 2006.
Bryant is still recovering from surgery on his torn Achilles tendon last April. Coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t know whether Kobe will be tweeting during games, as he did occasionally last year, but is confident he’s doing everything possible to return.
"We want to get him back as soon as we can, so he’s really concentrating on that," D’Antoni said. "He talks to the guys on the side. He’ll take Nick (Young) to the side, and I’ll see him talking to different guys. He’ll be there. We touch base all the time, and I’ll get his opinion."
LET THE BANNERS FLY: Doc Rivers made preseason headlines when he directed the Clippers to cover up the Lakers’ championship banners with larger-than-life portraits of his players during Clippers home games.
Since the Lakers were the home team in Tuesday’s opener, the banners were hanging unobstructed on the Staples Center wall. Rivers took the opportunity to make it clear he meant no disrespect to the 16-time champions down the hallway.
"I didn’t do that because, ‘Man, I don’t like the Lakers,’" Rivers said. "That was no intent at all, and I’ve said that 100 times. That was about, ‘We’re the Clippers, and when we play in our arena, it should be our arena.’ It’s just like thousands of other arenas around the country where two teams share."
But the longtime Celtics coach slightly wavered from that description a moment later.Next Page >
Copyright 2013 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.