The post-Red Auerbach era began on Wednesday night with a ceremony honoring the late Celtics icon -- and a loss by the Boston team that has plummeted from the heady days of his leadership.
Despite several second-half comebacks, the Celtics couldn't overcome New Orleans point guard Chris Paul's 20 points and 10 assists -- or Peja Stojakovic's two baskets in the final two minutes -- as the Hornets won 91-87.
Auerbach, who had seen all 56 previous Celtics season openers, died on Saturday of a heart attack near his Washington home at the age of 89. He had planned to attend.
The Hornets also added key components, picking up Stojakovic, Tyson Chandler and Bobby Jackson after finishing six games out of a playoffs spot last season.
But Paul and David West, who had 18 points, remain their leaders. It was West whose tip-in with 12 seconds remaining made it 91-85 and secured the victory.
Paul Pierce, coming off his best season, led Boston with 29 points and 19 rebounds, but missed eight of his 15 free throws, including four in the fourth quarter. Wally Szczerbiak added 21 points.
Bucks 105, Pistons 97
At Auburn Hills, Michigan, Michael Redd scored 37 points, Charlie Villanueva had 16 points and 12 rebounds in his Milwaukee debut, and the new-look Bucks got their season off to a much better start than Detroit.
The Pistons were without Ben Wallace for the first time in seven years, and it was obvious how much they missed him after the four-time Defensive Player of the Year signed a four-year contract with Chicago in the offseason for US$60 million.
Detroit signed center Nazr Mohammed a day after losing Wallace in July, and the lumbering center had a decent Pistons debut with eight points, 12 rebounds and a block before fouling out.
Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups each scored 25 points for the Pistons, who lost All-Star forward Rasheed Wallace midway through the third quarter when he was called for a second technical for bickering with officials. They taught him an early lesson that the NBA is serious about its goal of eliminating complaining and demonstrative reactions toward them.
Wallace was scoreless on 0-for-3 shooting and had three rebounds.
Magic 109, Bulls 94
At Orlando, Florida, Dwight Howard had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and Jameer Nelson scored 21 points as Orlando surprised Chicago to win its season opener.
The Bulls beat the defending champion Miami Heat by 42 points the night before, but couldn't find their stroke on Wednesday.
Ben Gordon flashed a dazzling array of reverse layups, drives and fadeaway jumpers on his way to 24 points that kept Chicago in the game -- barely.
76ers 88, Hawks 75
At Philadelphia, Allen Iverson scored 32 points and Andre Iguodala had 15 to lead Philadelphia to a win over Atlanta.
Samuel Dalembert had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Chris Webber grabbed 13 rebounds for the Sixers, who improved their mark on opening night to 39-19.
Nets 102, Raptors 92
At East Rutherford, New Jersey, Jason Kidd had 14 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds for his 76th career triple-double, Vince Carter added 25 points and 11 rebounds, and New Jersey beat Toronto.
Kidd stole the show in the final quarter with eight points, four assists and four rebounds. The point guard had four points and three assists in a quarter-opening, 18-8 spurt that gave New Jersey a 92-78 lead in what had been a closely contested contest.