It is finally time for the NBA regular season and Oct. 17 brought us two amazing games with Kyrie Irving making his way back to Cleveland for the first time since his requested trade was granted.
He was booed upon arrival as the Boston Celtics challenged the Cleveland Cavaliers. We all wanted to see what kind of interaction Irving and Cavaliers star LeBron James would have following the controversy between the two during the offseason.
But James and Irving were not the biggest story when five minutes into the game, new Celtics player Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome injury. He dislocated his left ankle and fractured his tibia, exiting the game on a stretcher, as the Cavaliers prevailed for a 102-99 victory. Hayward’s face was etched in pain as a wave of shock went over the entire Quicken Loans Arena. Hayward’s horrific injury overshadowed Irving’s return to Cleveland and redirected the Celtics immediate future and potential.
Hayward sat up, looked at his foot and yelled while some players covered their eyes and others simply turned their heads as Hayward sat there being tended to by the trainer before being wheeled from the arena on the stretcher.
He offered a thumbs up on his way out to the ambulance and the Celtics rallied in his absence but came up short. Though the outcome hardly mattered as all the concern was for the Celtics player.
The game still brought much excitement as the league’s biggest player, James scored 29 points; 13 in the fourth quarter. It was his most extensive action in three weeks because of a sprained left ankle. The superstar also fed Kevin Love for a critical three-pointer with 4.3 seconds left to put the Cavaliers up 102-98.
Irving, who asked to be traded this summer after six seasons in Cleveland, had a chance to tie the game with a three-pointer at the buzzer, but his shot was short. As the crowd exhaled, Irving and James shared a warm handshake and embrace.
Jaylen Brown scored 25 points and Irving scored 22 points with 10 assists for the Celtics, who overcame an 18-point deficit in the third quarter and even led the game with two minutes and four seconds left.
The game still ended with a lost for the Celtics who opened the season with back-to-back games and lost both.
In the other conference, the defending champion Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets battled.
In a game that appeared to look like a blow out, the Rockets rallied back to spoil the defending champion Warriors return. In a game that ended up being close and exciting instead of a boring blowout, Golden State thought it had pulled off a wild opening night win as the confetti began to fall after Kevin Durant’s baseline jumper.
The Rockets empathically said otherwise, insisting the Durant’s jumper had swished through the net after the buzzer. After one official got hurt, the two remaining referees reviewed the play and ruled the Rockets had escaped with the win.
The Rockets claimed the victory,122-121 on the night the Warriors received their championship rings.
Of that final shot, Durant stated: “I thought it had a chance but I knew it was a little late. I knew I was cutting it close.”
He also said “Tough loss. First game of 82, we’ve definitely got to move on. We’ve got to get better.” The Warriors got the ball back for one final chance to win the game with 10.6 seconds left on the clock and Durant came up with the ball after Stephen Curry had missed his three-point attempt.
Nick Young came off the bench to hit six three-pointers and scored 23 points in his brilliant Warriors debut. Curry scored 22 points and Durant had 20 points after a slow start. Klay Thompson added 16 points in the game. Draymond Green suffered an injury within the last minute of the third quarter and was out for the remainder of the game.
Chris Paul had four points on two of nine shooting in his Rockets debut, while Harden scored 27 points. Eric Gordon’s 24 points and PJ Tucker’s 20 points were huge for the Rockets and essential in their win.
Shaquita Newton is a sports blogger. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.