James, Durant Struggle With Their Shots, End Up Losing Openers

Thursday, November 1st 2007, 7:31 am
By: News On 6

One is an expected MVP candidate, the other the heavy favorite for Rookie of the Year.

Luckily for LeBron James and Kevin Durant, there's a long way to go before the voting for the awards.

James had the worst opening game of his career, Durant's shot was off in his NBA debut, and both were losers Wednesday on the first full night of action in the 2007-08 season.

Shortly after Cleveland raised its Eastern Conference championship banner, James endured a scoreless first half and finished with 10 points in a 92-74 loss to the Dallas Mavericks. He shot just 2-of-11 from the field, made five turnovers and was mostly a non-factor in the Cavs' most lopsided home loss since April 5, 2005, and their worst loss in a home opener in six years.

``It's the first game, hopefully we can put it behind us,'' James said. ``We didn't play well _ at all. It's kind of how we have been playing in the preseason. We didn't do anything right. We didn't play hard. We didn't execute.''

Durant, one of the NBA's most-hyped rookies since James entered the league in 2003, scored 18 points in his first game. But he was only 7-of-22 from the field in the Seattle SuperSonics' 120-103 loss in Denver.

``I'm always hard on myself even if I played well,'' Durant said. ``My team did a great job of getting me some open shots. I need to knock them down. I had a lot of open shots I should have knocked down.''

In other games Wednesday night, it was: Orlando 102, Milwaukee 83; Indiana 119, Washington 110 in overtime; Toronto 106, Philadelphia 97; New Jersey 112, Chicago 103 in overtime; San Antonio 104, Memphis 101; and New Orleans 104, Sacramento 90.

Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points, Allen Iverson had 25 points and 14 assists, and Linas Kleiza chipped in 18 points and hit five 3-pointers for Denver, which welcomed Kenyon Martin back into the starting lineup.

But most of the attention was on Durant, and Anthony _ who also left college after one sensational season _ remembers what that's like.

``He's going to be all right,'' Anthony said. ``I've been in that situation. I hope nobody puts too much pressure on him and makes him take that team to the NBA finals this year.''

At Cleveland, Jason Terry made six 3-pointers and scored 24 points, Jerry Stackhouse added 17 and Dirk Nowitzki 15 for Dallas, which went 9-of-18 behind the arc. That made it an easy opener for the Mavs, especially considering James' struggles.

``It's not so much what we did,'' Eddie Jones said. ``He just missed shots. We contested shots, but he just missed them. Believe me, that won't last long, him scoring 10 points. He's too good.''

Nets 112, Bulls 103, OT

Antoine Wright scored 14 of his career-high 21 points in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead New Jersey.

Richard Jefferson added 29 points and 10 rebounds, Vince Carter had 24 points and Jason Kidd handed out 13 assists to lead the Nets to their 12th straight home win over Chicago.

Ben Gordon had 27 points and Luol Deng added 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, who have been distracted in recent days by rumors of a possible trade for Kobe Bryant.

Pacers 119, Wizards 110, OT

Jamaal Tinsley scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, and host Indiana won in coach Jim O'Brien's debut.

Tinsley had nine rebounds and eight assists. Mike Dunleavy had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and Danny Granger added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who played without Jermaine O'Neal (hyperextended left knee) and Troy Murphy (strained left Achilles' tendon).

Gilbert Arenas led Washington with 34 points, including a 3-pointer as time expired in regulation to force overtime. Antawn Jamison had 27 points and 16 rebounds, Caron Butler had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Brendan Haywood added 10 points and 13 boards.

Magic 102, Bucks 83

Rashard Lewis scored 26 points and Hedo Turkoglu had 24 in Stan Van Gundy's first game as Magic coach.

The host Magic were 12-of-22 from 3-point range, compared with 4-of-17 for the Bucks. Dwight Howard had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Orlando.

Michael Redd scored 25 points for Milwaukee and Bobby Simmons added 16. Yi Jianlian had nine points and three rebounds in 25 minutes in his debut.

Raptors 106, 76ers 97

Andrea Bargnani scored 20 points and Toronto began defense of the Atlantic Division title by beating visiting Philadelphia.

T.J. Ford had 14 points and 12 assists for Toronto, while Chris Bosh scored 16 points, and Anthony Parker and Jose Calderon finished with 13 apiece.

Andre Iguodala led the 76ers with 23 points, while Kyle Korver had 20.

Spurs 104, Grizzlies 101

Manu Ginobili scored 30 points, including the go-ahead basket with 32 seconds left, added seven assists and drew a late charge from Memphis forward Rudy Gay to preserve visiting San Antonio's lead.

Tim Duncan and Tony Parker both had 17 points, and Duncan grabbed nine rebounds. Matt Bonner finished with 11 points in San Antonio's second win in two nights.

Pau Gasol led Memphis with 22 points, while Damon Stoudamire had 18 and Gay finished with 16.

Hornets 104, Kings 90

Chris Paul had 22 points and 12 assists, while Peja Stojakovic added 19 points for the Hornets in their first game returning to New Orleans full-time.

Tyson Chandler had 15 points and 13 rebounds for New Orleans, while David West showed no signs of a recent ankle sprain in scoring 17.

Kevin Martin led the Kings with 26 points, while John Salmons scored 22. Sacramento played without the suspended Ron Artest and the injured Mike Bibby.