NBA 1st Game Analysis: Heat-Celtics, Lakers-Rockets, Blazers-Suns

The 2010-11 NBA season tipped off Tuesday night, and there was plenty to digest in only three games of action. Here are some of the notable happenings and box score items.

Already Sorta Obvious League Leaders

  • Points: LeBron James, 31 points
  • Rebounds: Luis Scola, 16 rebounds
  • Assists: Rajon Rondo, 17 assists
  • 3-pointers: Ray Allen, 5 triples

Best Line of the Night

Pau Gasol: 29 points, 11 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 blocks, 2 assists

Best Rookie Performance

Very few rookies saw any action on Tuesday, but Armon Johnson, Portland’s second-round PG, put his stamp on the Trail Blazers’ opening night 106-92 win. In a tight fourth quarter, the newbie sank three buckets in a little over two minutes, all on aggressive moves to the basket, helping to energize his squad in the decisive final period. His frantic style and pestering, in-your-face defense lead to a nice little line of 6 points on 3-for-5 shooting, 3 assists to 1 turnover, and 2 rebounds in 9 minutes of burn. 

Shooting Clinic

The Phoenix Suns connected on 9-for-19 3-pointers (phenomenal 47% 3FG), led by Jason Richardson’s 3-for-4. Not to be outdone, their opponents, the Blazers, hit 10 of 20 (even more phenomenal 50% 3FG), lead by Brandon Roy’s 4-for-6. Richardson had a great scoring night efficiency wise, registering 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting, which would have been better if Phoenix wasn’t chucking up desperation junk at the end of the game.

LeBron Needs Some Help

Wait, that was supposed to be last year’s problem. James poured in 31 points in a losing effort to the Celtics, including a string of buckets in the 3rd to cut a 19-point deficit down to 3, before his team eventually succumbed 88-80. His Big Three partners did little to help on opening night. Dwyane Wade scored 13 on 4-for-16 shooting, and Chris Bosh limped in 8 points on 3-for-11 shooting. No other Heat player topped 8 points in yet another game that LeBron had to carry by himself, which doesn’t work well against a great squad like the Celtics.

Before Everyone Jumps On Miami

Due to injuries, the Heat and their Big Three didn’t get to play together this preseason, so this was the new squad’s first chance to share the court. The Celtics have basically been the same polished machine for a while, so the fairly-easy-for-a-while Boston win shouldn’t be that shocking this early in the year, and it certainly doesn’t mean Miami is in trouble. For a while – probably. For the year – not so much. They’re still on schedule; all they have to do is go 72-9 from here.

Game-Saving Bench Performance

LA’s Shannon Brown turned down more money elsewhere this summer to return to the Lakers’ bench, and he turned in one of the team’s more meaningful and important performances of the night as part of a 112-110 victory. When his team found itself in a dogfight with the comparatively lowly Rockets, Brown hit big 3 after big 3 in the fourth quarter, eventually netting 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-5 from downtown. For good measure, he grabbed 4 steals (which currently leads the league along with Ron Artest’s 4). Brown’s energy and blistering shooting were the difference. His +8 in 21 minutes topped every Laker starter by a mile except for Lamar Odom’s +11 in 33 minutes (other four: -8, -8, -7, +1).

First Stupid Technical of the Season

Rocket Kevin Martin earned the first NBA-crackdown-gone-crazy T with 42 seconds left in the second quarter. After fouling Kobe Bryant as he sank a short jumper, Martin basically threw his hand in frustration (definitely not an overt gesture meant to show up the refs) and then turned down the court, but the officials took the opportunity to put themselves front and center in the contest and remind the players they’re in charge, hitting Martin with the technical. The black-and-whites let a lot worse go on opening night, but Martin was busted. Stupid stupid stupid - and David Stern keeps defending this new practice as if it's what the fans want.


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