It was supposed to be one of the least watchable games of Wednesday night, but the Philadelphia 76ers couldn't help but make things interesting against the Miami Heat. After bursting out of the gate to take a 22-point lead in the first quarter, the young Sixers rallied in the final minutes to surprise the basketball world with a 114-110 victory.
While the win likely represents the highest peak of a tanking season in Philly, the positive signs from Wednesday's game won't be gone forever. Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams looked downright awesome throughout the game, finishing with 22 points, 12 assists and seven rebounds while setting the NBA record for steals in a pro debut with nine.
Things looked good for MCW right from the beginning:
Oh, also, Evan Turner did this to LeBron, and well...
Spurs 101, Grizzlies 94
Despite losing Tim Duncan to a chest contusion in the third quarter, the Spurs' reserves helped pull out an impressive home win over Memphis. All seven of San Antonio's reserves played in Wednesday's game, combining to score 53 points on 22-of-32 shooting.
Luckily for San Antonio, it lost Duncan after a dominant 30-7 second quarter that put the Spurs ahead by 21 points entering halftime. From there, the defense faltered a bit, but the hot shooting from the bench helped San Antonio stand its ground.
The status of Duncan's health going forward is uncertain, but the team doesn't appear to be treating his chest contusion as a major issue.
Knicks 90, Bucks 83
In a sloppy game full of turnovers, New York's dominant first half proved enough to earn a victory. Trailing 56-31 at halftime, the Bucks rallied in the third quarter to trim the Knicks' lead to just 10 points entering the final period, but the comeback fell short from there.
Carmelo Anthony delivered a double-double in his first game of the season, contributing 19 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes. Raymond Felton added 18 points, three assists and three steals.
Cavaliers 98, Nets 94
After changing his shooting hand during the summer in an unprecedented move, the early results for Cavaliers big man Tristan Thompson have been quite positive. Faced up against a stacked Nets front line in the season opener, Thompson recorded 18 points on 9-of-13 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds to power Cleveland's surprising victory.
Kyrie Irving struggled with his shot most of the game, hitting just 4-of-16 attempts from the field, but he still finished with 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Here's video of one of his sweetest assists, a fourth-quarter dish to Anderson Varejao between two defenders:
Pistons 113, Wizards 102
Playing without Brandon Jennings, the new-look Pistons got their first win of the season behind a strong game from the team's front line. Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe and Josh Smith did a fantastic job of clogging the paint against Washington, forcing the Wizards' outside shooters to beat them constantly.
While Trevor Ariza delivered for the Wiz with 28 points, including six three-pointers, the team's lack of inside scoring proved costly against a big, physical Pistons team. Monroe led Detroit with 24 points and 16 rebounds, while Smith added 19 points, five rebounds and five assists.
The Wizards may be entering the season with high expectations, but it was just one of those nights (via @recordsANDradio):
Raptors 93, Celtics 87
Toronto struggled offensively throughout its season opener, but strong rebounding and turnovers allowed the Raptors to come away victorious. The team's 48-33 advantage on the board, plus 22 Boston turnovers, allowed for numerous extra opportunities around the basket -- the Raptors took 20 more shot attempts than their opponents.
Jeff Green still had a strong game for the Celtics, finishing with 25 points, five rebounds, two assists and just one turnover. Rudy Gay led the Raptors in scoring with 19 points, while point guard Kyle Lowry added 11 points and eight assists.
Rockets 96, Bobcats 83
If folks were doubting the kind of impact Dwight Howard might have in Houston, Wednesday was a pretty good start. Facing Al Jefferson and the Bobcats, Howard turned in a dominating performance that hopefully sets the tone all season.
Via @eliassports Dwight Howard- 1st player with 26 rebounds in a season opener since Wilt Chamberlain, who had 31 in 1970— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 31, 2013
Powered by Howard's 17-point, 26-rebound effort, the Rockets held a 54-37 advantage on the boards. D12 also played strong defense on Jefferson, holding the often-productive big man to 13 points on 6-of-19 shooting.
Pacers 95, Pelicans 90
The first regular season game in Pelicans history didn't go according to plan as Pacers wing Paul George had a field day. Coming off a strong season opener against Orlando, George turned things up with a 32-point, six-rebound, five-assist effort against New Orleans.
The Pelicans actually had three different players score 20-plus points -- Eric Gordon, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday -- but the overall offense was lackluster. Davis, with seven offensive rebounds, played a key role in extended possessions as the team's perimeter shots failed to fall.
And even in a losing effort, this alley oop from Brian Roberts to Davis is something to behold:
Mavericks 118, Hawks 109
If the early indications mean anything, the new pairing of Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis could end up turning some heads. On Wednesday, the two joined forces to power a devastating offensive attack that shot 57 percent from the field and 46 percent from behind the arc.
Ellis looked particularly good in his first game wearing a Mavericks uniform. Often working in sets along with Nowitzki, he recorded 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting while adding eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. Ellis also committed seven turnovers, but it was a generally positive effort from the mercurial guard.
Nowitzki finished with 24 points, five assists and four rebounds. Like Ellis, he was highly efficient, hitting 8-of-14 shots from the field. Jeff Teague led Atlanta with 24 points, nine assists and four steals.
Timberwolves 120, Magic 115 (OT)
The first overtime game of the 2013-14 season ends with the Timberwolves getting their first win. The thing is, Minnesota only got the chance to win thanks to a Kevin Love three-pointer at the end of the regulation that forced extra time.
For Love, who battled injuries throughout last season, Wednesday was a sign that he's back for good. In 41 minutes, Love recorded 31 points, 17 rebounds and four assists -- his 16 free throw attempts were just two fewer than Orlando's 18 as a team.
The Magic got big games from Arron Afflalo and Nikola Vucevic in the loss. Afflalo put up a team-leading 28 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Vucevic added 22 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks.
Thunder 101, Jazz 98
Unsurprisingly, Kevin Durant delivered the biggest scoring performance on Wednesday's loaded slate. Leading Oklahoma City without point guard Russell Westbrook, Durant put up 42 points and six rebounds in the team's first win of the season.
Despite shooting just 9-of-24 from the field, Durant turned in a huge 22-of-24 effort from the charity stripe. This was pretty big on a night where the Thunder shot a combined 41 percent.
For the new-look Jazz, Wednesday showed some mixed signs. The negatives -- turnovers from Derrick Favors, an inability to stop KD, John Lucas starting at point guard -- aren't too surprising. But the play of reserve guard Alec Burks, who finished with 24 points, six rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes, could be a game-changer for Utah this season.
Just look at the skill, athleticism and concentration from Burks on this circus shot:
Suns 104, Trail Blazers 91
If the Suns are going to win a bunch of games this season, they'll need unexpected performances like the one they got Wednesday night from second-year forward Miles Plumlee. Starting for the Suns after a year of bench-warming for the Indiana Pacers, Plumlee came through with 18 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in his Suns debut.
As Tim Donahue noted, this was a breakout game of unusual proportions:
This is mildy awesome. MP had 13 all last season MT @blazerbanter You can't stop Miles Plumlee, only hope to contain him. 14 points now.— Tim Donahue (@TimDonahue8p9s) October 31, 2013
It was an emotional scene for a Sacramento crowd as they celebrated another season opener. The team thrived off the energy from the crowd, but this game was pretty tight throughout. DeMarcus Cousins had a huge game for the Kings, including a dominating stretch late in the fourth quarter.
When all was said and done, a pumped up Kings team took down the new-look Nuggets in one of the closest games of the evening.
On the second night of a back-to-back after opening the season with a victory over the Clippers, the Lakers traveled to Oracle Arena and received a serious wakeup call. Golden State started off hot and never seemed to cool off. For a change of pace, Klay Thompson played the role of Stephen Curry on Wednesday night as he scored 38 points in the first three quarters before sitting the entire fourth. He shot 5 of 7 from behind the arc and the Lakers just had no plan to stop him.
After his magical performance against the Clippers, Xavier Henry seemed to come back down to earth. He shot just 2 of 9 from the field and committed 4 turnovers in his 30 minutes. Maybe he isn't the next great superstar in Los Angeles just yet.