The New York Knicks gave the city’s suffering residents something to cheer with a surprisingly comfortable 104-84 win over the Miami Heat in their storm-delayed NBA season opener on Friday.
In the first sporting event in New York since superstorm Sandy, the Knicks dominated a game the Heat players were not sure should even be played with the city still so devastated.
However, the Knicks hoped they could provide a distraction for a few hours, and fans who were able to watch surely loved what they saw from a team that could barely compete with Miami last season.
Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 10 rebounds while Steve Novak, a non-factor against the Heat in last season’s playoffs, added 17 points off the bench.
As much as the Knicks may be pleasing their fans, the Los Angeles Lakers are letting down theirs. The Lakers made it an 0-3 start to the season with a 105-95 loss to their co-tenant Los Angeles Clippers.
Even 40 points from Kobe Bryant was not enough to prevent the Lakers slipping to 0-3 for the first time since 1978. They also lost all eight of their preseason games.
Chris Paul had 18 points and 15 assists for the Clippers, who pulled away steadily in the second half.
Along with the Knicks, another team that looks to have improved — they could scarcely have got worse — is the Charlotte Bobcats, who edged the Indiana Pacers 90-89.
The Bobcats lost their final 23 games last season to finish 7-59, the worst winning percentage (.106) in NBA history, prompting owner Michael Jordan to proclaim the franchise had “hit rock bottom.”
However, they played with newfound aggressiveness on defense under new coach Mike Dunlap — they forced 19 turnovers — and started this season strongly against a Pacers team that won 19 of 33 road games last season.
Kemba Walker scored a career-high 30 points for Charlotte, which hung on in a tight finish, with the two teams scoring only two points between them in the final 3:27.
The Houston Rockets had a 109-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks, thanks chiefly to new signing James Harden, who scored a career-high 45 points. Harden, arriving from Oklahoma City, has topped 30 points in both his appearances for his new team.
Another new Rocket, Jeremy Lin, had 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Harden’s old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, beat the Portland Trail Blazers 106-92 to notch a fourth-straight win in home openers. Russell Westbrook scored 32 points while Kevin Durant had 23 points and 17 rebounds for the Thunder, which pulled away in the last quarter.
The Chicago Bulls crushed the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-86, sinking 44 of 69 shots from the field. Richard Hamilton and Carlos Boozer each scored 19 points. It is the first time in 10 years that the Bulls have won their opening two games, despite missing star point guard Derrick Rose, who is expected to miss the first half of the season.
The Milwaukee Bucks also got off to an uncharacteristically good start, winning their first season opener for six years with a 99-88 win at the Boston Celtics.
Brandon Jennings had 21 points, 13 assists and six steals for the Bucks, who never trailed after the first 6 minutes.
The New Orleans Hornets needed a driving layup by Greivis Vasquez with 1.3 seconds left to secure an 88-86 win over the Utah Jazz. The hosts snuck home despite rookie center Anthony Davis — the No. 1 overall pick in the draft — leaving the game for good after being hit to the temple by a stray elbow late in the first half.