CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James struggled from the start in his first game with Cleveland in four years, and the New York Knicks ruined the megastar’s emotional homecoming with a 95-90 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night.
James, who returned to the Cavs and his native Ohio this summer after winning two NBA titles in Miami, finished with 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting. He also committed eight turnovers and never looked comfortable on a night when the entire city – and a star-studded crowd – celebrated his comeback.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and buried a jumper with James in his face with 25 seconds left to give the Knicks a 92-87 lead.
Kyrie Irving scored 22 and Kevin Love added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who have some work to before they can start thinking about any titles.
CLIPPERS 93, THUNDER 90
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Blake Griffin scored 23 points, making two free throws with five seconds left, Chris Paul added 22 and Clippers beat Oklahoma City in their season opener to usher in a new era under owner Steve Ballmer.
Los Angeles hardly resembled its new ad campaign of ”Be Relentless” early on, when the Thunder scored the game’s first eight points as Ballmer cupped his hands and yelled to his team from his baseline seat near their bench.
He paid a record $2 billion to buy the team after 33-year owner Donald Sterling was banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks. The Thunder sent the Clippers packing in the second round of the playoffs last spring, shortly after the Sterling scandal erupted.
Already without injured Kevin Durant, the Thunder lost Russell Westbrook to a hand injury in the second quarter. Perry Jones scored a career-high 32 points, making 9 of 11 free throws. The Thunder are 0-2, having dropped their opener a night earlier at Portland.
MAVERICKS 120, JAZZ 102
DALLAS (AP) – Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and Dallas celebrated the return of two key pieces from the franchise’s only championship team in a home-opening victory over Utah.
Tyson Chandler, the center and emotional leader when Dallas beat Miami for the title three years ago, had 13 points and six rebounds in his first home game since leaving in free agency not long after celebrating the crown.
J.J. Barea, the diminutive guard and 2011 NBA Finals spark who was re-acquired a day earlier, got a standing ovation when he came off the bench late in the first quarter. He had four points.
Derrick Favors had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who fell behind by 30 points in the first half of a tough back-to-back after an opening loss to Houston at home.
WIZARDS 105, MAGIC 98
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – John Wall had 30 points and 12 assists, and Washington held off a late surge to beat Orlando.
Marcin Gortat added 20 points and 12 rebounds. All five starters scored in double figures as Washington earned its fifth straight victory over its division rival.
The Magic trailed by three at the half, only to be outscored 28-15 in the third quarter. Orlando recovered in the fourth and rallied to trim what had been a 17-point Washington lead to two with less than a minute to play. But Wall got free for a driving layup to help preserve the victory.
Nik Vucevic led the Magic with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Orlando finished with 18 turnovers, matching its total from its season opener.
TIMBERWOLVES 97, PISTONS 91
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Thaddeus Young scored 19 points and hit a big 3-pointer with 90 seconds to play to lift Minnesota over Detroit.
Nikola Pekovic had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio added 11 points, eight assists and seven boards for the Timberwolves in their home opener.
Caron Butler scored 24 points and D.J. Augustin had 20 points and six assists for the Pistons, who have opened the season with two straight losses on the road under first-year coach Stan Van Gundy.
Andre Drummond had 11 points and 12 rebounds, but he was limited in the second half by foul trouble and the Timberwolves held off a late charge from Butler and the Pistons.