Stephen Curry accepted his championship ring. He spoke to the Golden State Warriors' crowd. Then he ripped apart the New Orleans Pelicans for 40 points as the Golden State Warriors rolled on opening night, 111-95.
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Curry became the first reigning MVP in NBA history to score 40 or more points in the season opener. Curry was on fire from the opening tip. He put up 24 points in the first quarter on 8-of-12 shooting from the field -- 4-of-7 from deep. He put up a measly five points in the second quarter, but got right back to it in the third with 11 points to up his total to 40.
At that point the Warriors led 94-75 and Curry's night was essentially over, although he did return to the court in the fourth quarter but did not score. He was 14-of-26 from the field and 5-of-12 from deep. He didn't quite make it to his career-high of 54 that he set against the New York Knicks in 2013.
Curry made it look easy all night, hitting shots effortlessly whether it was from 25 feet out or on a finger roll through the lane.
And, as always, he wasn't hogging the ball. Curry ended the night with seven assists.
The reigning NBA champions picked up right where they left off, looking dominant on their home court where they finished 39-2 last season. Klay Thompson and Draymond Green weren't as impressive as they were last season, but they didn't have to be.
For Curry's fellow MVP-candidate Anthony Davis, it was anything but a magical night. Davis finished with 18 points and six rebounds on 4-of-20 shooting. But not all is lost. The Pelicans were on the road against the NBA champions and Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins had to start for goodness sake. (Perkins was great in the first quarter, to be fair.) It was a rough opening night, but the Pelicans have plenty of time to improve.
For the Warriors, though, it was the perfect way to start the season.
3 things we learned
New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is going to fit in well in Chicago. Pau Gasol spoiled LeBron James' attempt at heroics, blocking his shot with 3.6 seconds left (see play of the night, below) to help seal a win for the Bulls' new coach. It was a sloppy game and the Bulls looked a lot like the Tom Thibodeau-led squads of the past, but they did show flashes of offensive brilliance. It was a balanced attack. Derrick Rose had 18 points and five assists and Jimmy Butler had 17 points and five rebounds. Nikola Mirotic, who wasn't a favorite under Thibodeau, had 19 points to lead the Bulls in scoring. Playing with protective eye gear, Rose came up big in the fourth quarter, hitting a few big buckets and finding Butler for a few of his own.
The Cavaliers need help defensively. LeBron James did his thing with 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers, but Cleveland didn't look like a championship contender. Kevin Love had 18 points and eight rebounds but lacked effort defensively, giving up one transition bucket when he didn't attempt to stop the ball. And even though Mo Williams had 19 points and seven assists, Kyrie Irving was certainly missed, and will be until he returns. Aside from James, Timofey Mozgov, and Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers have a lot of players who move a little too slowly on defense.
Stan Van Gundy has assembled a team in Detroit. The Pistons dominated the Atlanta Hawks in every facet of their opener on the road, winning 106-94. They did it with great three-point shooting -- they were 12-of-29 from deep -- and a dominant big man -- Andre Drummond had 18 points and 19 rebounds. Drummond was a monster, but he does need to work on his scoring. He was only 6-of-16 from the field. His presence was enough against last year's No. 1 seed in the East, however, as the Pistons outrebounded the Hawks, 59-40.
Atlanta, meanwhile, looked nothing like the team that won more than 60 games last season. DeMarre Carroll was missed. Kyle Korver's playoff struggles spilled over to opening night. They were just 8-of-27 from deep. It's just one game, but Atlanta has some work to do.
Play of the night
LeBron James was about to ruin another night for the Chicago Bulls. With the Cleveland Cavaliers down by two with less than 10 seconds to play, James got the ball at the top of the key. Tristan Thompson set a screen on Jimmy Butler, giving James room to drive to the hoop. But Pau Gasol was waiting for him. Gasol blocked the James runner out of bounds with 3.6 seconds left and Jimmy Butler knocked out the ensuing inbounds pass. Gasol didn't have a great night offensively -- just two points -- but he came up when it mattered most. Plus, that wasn't his only block of the night. Gasol swatted six shots on the evening. The Bulls will take six blocks and a win any night.
3 other fun things
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