Orlando Magic 87, Indiana Pacers 97
As you can see per @johnschuhmann on Twitter, Orlando shot only 36% in the restricted area (the arc in the paint four feet from the basket) with Roy Hibbert on the floor last night. So, it seems that the Pacers are exactly how we thought they’d be – amazing defensively.
They had a total of 18 blocks as a team. 18! Hibbert himself had seven of them, and his frontcourt partner, David West, had five.
The Pacers starters – Hill, Stephenson, George and West/Hibbert – posted a DRtg of 57.7. By comparison, the highest rated defense last year (last year’s Pacers) had a DRtg of 99.8 on the season. Obviously the defensive efficiency that the Pacers exhibited last night won’t continue at this record-breaking rate, but I’d bet on them posting one of the lower season DRtg numbers we’ve seen in a while. They'll look to continue their hot start tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans while the Magic take on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Chicago Bulls 95, Miami Heat 107
I wrote in my NBA Preview article about how so many people were gushing over the return of Derrick Rose to the feisty Bulls, and were already writing him in for MVP and the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. Fans are so ready to have a different champion that they've been anointing a Bulls team that hasn't yet earned it. Well, the champs are still the champs. Rose got a rude awakening on his way back to the court and the Miami Heat were stifling on the defensive end.
The Heat starters – Chalmers, Wade, James, Bosh and Haslem – posted a stout DRtg of 91.0, and the Heat small-ball second unit with LeBron out – Cole, Allen, Wade, Battier, and Andersen – torched the Bulls defense, ending with a ridiculous 129.5 ORtg.
LeBron had an underwhelming 17 points, but had six rebounds and eight assists. The team as a whole had 26 assists on 37 field goals, and were able to move the ball through the Bulls defense that was one of the best in the league last year. Joakim Noah was limited in only 20 minutes last night, and once Rose and crew get used to playing with each other again, they'll be just fine.
Miami looks for their second win tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Bulls play again tomorrow against the New York Knicks.
Los Angeles Clippers 103, Los Angeles Lakers 116
With Kobe Bryant sitting injured on the bench, there was no way the Lakers could beat the Clippers on opening night, right?
This game was decided by the second units of each team, and the Lakers bench outscored the Clippers bench 76-34. Yes, you read that correctly. Xavier Henry went off for 22 points and six rebounds and the whole Lakers seond unit – Farmar, Meeks, Henry, Johnson and Hill – posted a crazy 154.6 ORtg on what was supposed to be an improved Clippers defense under new head coach Doc Rivers.
The Lakers had 18 offensive rebounds to the Clippers 10, which led to them winning second chance points 30-16. The Clippers were out-rebounded altogether 52-40, and this comes after a lot of preseason hype surrounding the improved Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan frontcourt. Chris Paul still managed a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists despite the Clippers’ issues, but this team has a ways to go on the defensive end if they truly have Finals aspirations.
The Lakers are right back at it tonight against the Golden State Warriors and the Clips try to regroup against the Warriors tomorrow night.