The 2010-11 NBA season tipped off for 22 more teams on Wednesday night (Wasington and Orlando have to wait until tonight). Here are some of the notable happenings and box score items from the league's second opening night.
The Expected Demise of Evan Turner and Derrick Favors Was a Bit Exaggerated
The Sixers’ SG/SF had a very Evan Turner-in-college-esque line, scoring 16 on 7-for-10 shooting, snaring 7 rebounds, handing out 4 assists (2 turnovers), and blocking a shot for good measure. The Nets’ rookie big man scored 8 points on 3-for-5 shooting and grabbed 10 boards (3 offensive) in exactly 20 minutes of play in a 101-98 win for New Jersey, which comes 18 games ahead of time compared to last season.
Blake Griffin’s Amazingness Was Not Exaggerated At All
We already knew he was the Clippers’ best player. We already knew he was probably a top-5 PF right now. We already knew he was the likely Rookie of the Year winner. What we didn’t know as certainly was how great he’d start off: 20 points (8-for-14 shooting, so he wasn’t forcing up shots), 14 rebounds (including a ridiculously good 9 offensive), 4 assists, and a steal. His first pro basket was a thunderous dunk while nearly being undercut. He was super active, knows how to use a spin move to get to the hole, and is tenacious on the offensive board, regularly using a board in traffic as a put-back. For reference, Tim Duncan’s first game ever was a 15-10 (1 offensive) double-double.
Someone Forgot to Tell Monta Ellis Not To Show Up The Whole League Already
The electrifying Ellis put up the season’s first did-you-hear-how-many-points-so-and-so-scored? game. Not only did he score 46 big points in a tight throughout 132-128 Golden State victory over Houston, but he did so efficiently. The career 48% shooter connected on 18 of 24 shots, plus 9 of 12 free throws (hit 1 triple). Wilt Chamberlain is the only Warrior ever to score more on opening night (56 in 1962, 48 in 1961). It should be mentioned that Ellis received help from Stephen Curry, who continued where he ended his rookie season by scoring 25 points (9-for-16 over, 3-for-6 from deep) and dishing out 11 assists, and from newly acquired David Lee, who put up a Lee-like 17 points and 15 rebounds, plus 6 assists for the hell of it.
Portland’s Maturity Coming In Handy In The Fourth, Again
The Trail Blazers finished off the Suns on Tuesday by outscoring them 18-1 to end the game after finding themselves in a 88-91 hole with 5:43 remaining. Wednesday wasn’t much different; they outscored the Clippers 18-8 over the final 8 minutes after sitting in a 76-80 hole. Three years ago, Portland was the youngest team in the league, but now they’re making late game-changing runs with the following lineup: Brandon Roy (5th season), LaMarcus Aldridge (5th season), Marcus Camby (15th season), Andre Miller (12th season), and Nicolas Batum (3rd season – but has the experience of being France’s #1 man in international competition). By the way, raise your hand if you thought the only team to be 2-0 after playing the season’s earliest back-to-backs would be the Blazers and not Boston (1-1) or Miami (1-1).
Antawn Jamison’s Stock Continues To Tumble, Cavs Win
After LeBron and Shaq left Cleveland over the summer, Jamison looked to be the biggest “name” player left on the sure-to-be-terrible Cavaliers. Well new coach Byron Scott started J.J. Hickson at the PF position instead, which worked out fine: Hickson scored 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting and snagged a team second-best 6 rebounds. Jamison shot 2-for-6 for 4 points off the bench in 21 minutes (put the man on suicide watch). Cleveland was able to catch Boston off-guard in the fourth period, outscoring the defending Eastern Conference champs 27-14 for a 95-87 win, which Cav fans especially like since it comes one day after the Celtics toppled LeBron’s Miami Heat.
Maximum Passing Efficiency
Chris Paul not only averages double-digit assist averages each year, but he does so with while barely turning the ball over. He took it to a whole new level on Tuesday, dishing out 16 dimes with only 1 turnover to his name. His Hornets got past the Bucks 95-91, but Milwaukee PG Brandon Jennings had his own beauty, going 10 assists to 1 turnover. Not to be outdone, Dallas’ Jason Kidd had 18 assists to only 1 turnover in an easy Mavericks’ win over Charlotte.
Minnesota Takes The Early Lead On Sacramento For Title of Worst Team
I know neither team really has a chance to play in the playoffs this year, which is what makes a first-night matchup between the two so interesting; they’re not behind in the standings so they still have some unrealistic hopes, and they haven’t had the fight beaten out of them yet. Sacramento earned the early-season 117-116 win, pulling ahead for good with 2:59 left in the contest on a Carl Landry lay-up, going up 108-107 at that point. What’s especially bad about this loss for Minny is that Tyreke Evans, the Kings’ best player, didn’t even suit up because of a one-game league suspension stemming from a driving incident over the summer. The Wolves’ next 7 games look like probable losses (Milwaukee, Memphis, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Houston, and LA Lakers), so I’m thinking their first win will come in mid-November over Sacramento (Nov. 10th), New York (12th), Charlotte (15th), or LA Clippers (17th).
Your Newest All-Star, Luis Scola
After blowing up the FIBA World Championships for Argentina, Rockets’ big man Luis Scola entered his fourth season with a lot of confidence. Against the Lakers’ killer frontcourt on Tuesday night, Scola went for an 18-16 double-double while nearly stealing the win in LA. He followed that up with a much better 36-16 double-double in a win at Golden State. He’s smart, he busts heads under the hoop, and he’s shown clear improvement over his first three seasons (went from 10-6 to 13-9 to 16-9, currently averaging a 27-16); I’m expected big things from Scola this year, including an All-Star nod.
Forcing The Action
LeBron James racked up a terrible total of 8 turnovers to only 3 assists in Tuesday’s loss to Boston. He followed that up with 9 turnovers to 7 assists on Wednesday against Philly. Yeah the Heat aren’t all playing on the same page yet, but 17 turnovers in two games is way unacceptable for anyone, let alone the guy with the ball in his hands all the time. James’ career averages are 7 assists and 3.3 turnovers per game.