LeBron James recently spoke out about possible distractions caused by the pregame ring ceremony, but the reigning MVP made sure Miami never suffered a letdown. James finished with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and the Heat ruined Derrick Rose's return to the court in a 107-95 win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.
But the victory didn't come without some drama. Despite falling behind by as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter, Chicago stormed back to cut the lead to eight with just under three minutes remaining. But the Heat stifled the Bulls the rest of the way to secure the opening-night victory. Carlos Boozer did his best to keep his team in the game with 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting from the floor, while Rose went for just 12 points and four assists in 34 minutes.
The Heat had seven players score in double figures, including 16 and 13 points from Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, respectively. Jimmy Butler and his awesome haircut dropped 20 for the Bulls in the loss.
Pacers 97, Magic 87
Indiana nearly upended the eventual champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals last season, and after a few offseason acquisitions they're once again ready to contend. The Pacers defeated the young Orlando Magic, 97-87, on Tuesday behind 24 points, six rebounds and five assists from Paul George, and big man Roy Hibbert was up to his old tricks.
The suffocating Pacers defense held the Magic to less than 39 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers, and Hibbert was a force inside. The big man finished with just eight points, but he absolutely dominated the paint with 16 rebounds and seven blocks. Lance Stephenson and David West were the only other Pacers in double figures with 19 and 13 points, respectively.
There was a scary moment midway through the fourth quarter as Hibbert went to the floor holding his left knee. He had to be helped off the court, but reports indicate he's OK and will be ready to play Wednesday in New Orleans.
Lakers 116, Clippers 103
The Los Angeles Clippers were heavily favored heading into their Tuesday season opener, but the Los Angeles Lakers weren't buying into the hype machine at Staples. Mike D'Antoni's bench scored the team's final 48 points, and the Lakers ran away in the fourth quarter with a 116-103 victory and Steve Nash and Pau Gasol watching from the bench. Kobe Bryant was watching, too:
Xavier Henry went for a career high 22 points off the bench, and Jordan Farmar, whose career has come full circle back to Los Angeles, had 15 of his own.
The Lakers had much more energy than the Clippers in the final frame, and their 41 fourth-quarter points broke the game wide open. The Purple and Gold also hit 14 of its 29 three-point attempts and grabbed 18 offensive rebounds. The Clippers hit just eight shots from deep and were out-rebounded 52-40 by the Lakers.