NBA Opening Night Reflections Part Two
With a large majority of the NBA teams undergoing their 2012-13 season debut’s on Wednesday night the new year is now well underway for 22 of the 30 teams in the Association. 16 teams made played their first game of the season and now it’s time to reflect on what was witnessed by those teams and two of the teams who have now played two games thus far this year, the Los Angeles Lakers (0-2) and Dallas Mavericks (1-1) . Time to reflect!
For starters let’s begin with James Harden‘s debut as a member of the Houston Rockets, talk about not only being welcomed to a new team but also earning your new paycheck on the first day on the job. Harden scored 37 points, dished out 12 assists, grabbed six rebounds, racked up four steals and even blocked a shot in the Rockets 105-96 victory over the Detroit Pistons. Harden made NBA history with his night becoming just the fifth player to record 35 points and 10 assists in a season opener and his 37 points are tied for second for most points scored by a player in his debut with a new team. Harden and Jeremy Lin combined for 49 points and 20 assists, could this be the beginning of one of the best back courts in the Association.
The Philadelphia 76ers looked real impressive in their 84-75 victory over the Denver Nuggets with Jrue Holiday and Spencer Hawes leading the way. Holiday scored 14 points, dished out 11 assists and grabbed six rebounds while Hawes scored 16, pulled down 12 boards and blocked five shots in the absence of Andrew Bynum. When Bynum does finally hit the court this team is going to be for real just as I told everyone in my season preview.
The Brow, Anthony Davis looked every bit the part of a number one overall draft pick in the New Orleans Hornets 99-95 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. Davis scored 21 points, hauled in seven boards, blocked one shot and made one steal while draining all nine of his attempts from the charity stripe. Tim Duncan and his veteran crew however got the best of the rookie behind the Big Fundamentals 24 points, 11 rebounds, three blocks and three assists. This just in Davis is going to be a player in this league for quite a while.
The Golden State Warriors displayed that they are going to be a good team this year winning a tough 87-85 battle with the revamped Phoenix Suns despite the Dub’s best player Stephen Curry scoring just five points on 2-14 shooting from the field. The Warriors showed that not only are they talented but deep as well with four players scoring in double figures including three of them from the reserve unit. Phoenix will be better than advertised this year also with Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola making up a formidable duo for them in the paint.
The Los Angeles Clippers picked up sort of where they left off last season notching a thrilling victory over the Memphis Grizzlies 101-92. Newly acquired Jamal Crawford welcomed himself to the rivalry scoring 29 points in 30 minutes off of the bench for the Clips while Chris Paul scored 12 and dished out 12 including a couple of alley oops getting Lob City ready to go in 2012-13. The Grizzlies front court trio (which maybe the best in the NBA) of Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph combined for 60 points, 30 rebounds, 11 assists, five steals and three blocks, now they just need some help from their bench and back court and they should be fine.
The Portland Trailblazers looked great for one night as the handled the fumbling, new look Lakers 116-106 behind terrific performances from their entire starting lineup including Nicholas Batum (26 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals) and rookie point guard Damian Lillard (23 points, 11 assists and 3 rebounds). Look out for Lillard in the Rookie of the Year conversation all season long. The Lakers offense looked much better than in their opening night loss with Dwight Howard leading the way with 33 points, 14 rebounds and five assists but two things that draw some concern are their defense which looks atrocious and Steve Nash‘s health. The 39-year old point guard left the game in the third quarter following a shin bruise which could be a lingering issue. With the Lakers beginning the season with two losses the countdown will now begin to Kobe Bryant lashing out both verbally and on the court.
The Chicago Bulls defeated the Sacramento Kings 93-87 behind a strong performance from Joakim Noah (23 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, three blocks and three assists) and will need him to play like this every night in order to make up for having no Derrick Rose till whenever. The Utah Jazz beat up on the Mavericks 113-94 behind dual dynamic performances from Utah’s new Williams duo of Marvin Williams (21 points and 3 rebounds) and Mo Williams (21 points and 6 assists). Finally the Indiana Pacers struggled often but pulled out a 90-88 victory in the final second over the Toronto Raptors. Paul George went for 14 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for the Pacers but they need to play better against teams they should easily defeat if they want to truly be a favorite in the East like the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat.