The opening week of the 2021-22 NBA season continued in style on Wednesday night with a number of remarkable games, including the New York Knicks' double-overtime win over the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Hornets' 23-point comeback to take down the Indiana Pacers. Later on, the Sacramento Kings held on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers despite a frantic finish.
There were more than a few impressive individual efforts as well, such as Jaylen Brown going for 46 points, nine rebounds and six assists, Ja Morant dropping 37 points, six rebounds and six assists and LaMelo Ball finishing with 31 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Elsewhere, Zach LaVine scored 34 points, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards combined for put 59 points and 15 rebounds and Harrison Barnes poured in 36 of his own.
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To get you caught up on all the action, here are some takeaways from Wednesday night:
Knicks outduel Celtics in a double-overtime instant classic
The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics first played each other back in 1946, and have met hundreds of times in the 75 years since then. It's safe to say very few of those matchups could compare to Wednesday night's instant classic, which the Knicks won 138-134.
Boston had control for much of regulation and led by as much as 12 before faltering early in the fourth quarter. As New York built an 11-point lead of their own in the fourth, it appeared they would coast to an opening-night win. Instead, the Celtics pulled off an incredible comeback to send the game to overtime thanks to last-second 3-pointers from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, the latter of which was at the buzzer.
As the teams battled through exhaustion in the extra frames, the game was there for either of them to win. Eventually, the Knicks pulled it out after Evan Fournier hit a go-ahead triple in the final minute. He finished with 32 points, which was the most ever by a Knicks player in their debut for the team.
Brown went for a career-high 46 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals, setting a record by the most points ever by a Celtics player in an opening night game. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, in part because Brown missed a wide-open breakaway dunk in the second overtime that would have put the Celtics up by three.
LaMelo stars in thriller
Reigning Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball picked up right where he left off, going for 31 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals as the Charlotte Hornets snuck past the Indiana Pacers 123-122 in an incredible game. Down by as much as 23, the Hornets stormed back with a 24-0 run in the third quarter to get back in the game, and eventually won thanks to some last-second free throws by PJ Washington.
Ball was instrumental in that third-quarter comeback. Between his own baskets and assists, he accounted for 16 of the Hornets' 24 points in that huge run. At one point he was even receiving "M-V-P" chants from the fans in Charlotte. "I heard it," LaMelo said. "The city turnt. I love it."
Morant has highlight-reel night in Grizzlies' win
Ja Morant is one of the most electrifying players in the league, and he showed exactly why in the Memphis Grizzlies' opening-night win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Morant finished with 37 points, six rebounds, six assists and highlight-reel plays on both ends of the floor.
First, at the very end of the first half, Morant raced back in transition and got way up to swat away Lauri Markkanen's shot. If you're keeping track at home, Morant is 6-foot-3, while Markkanen stands seven feet tall.
Then, on the other side of the break, Morant showed off his athleticism again by soaring for an alley-oop. At first, it appeared the pass was going to be too far behind him, but he extended his arm way back behind his head, caught it with one hand and threw it down.
Wolves' young stars have exciting night
Minnesota Timberwolves fans haven't had a lot to cheer about over the last few years, and former president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas leaving the franchise under contentious circumstances a few weeks before the season started certainly didn't help the vibes.
But on Wednesday night they got a boost from their two young stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. The duo was terrific as the Wolves dispatched the Houston Rockets, combining for 59 points, 16 rebounds and five assists. Yes, it was just one game, and yes, it was against the Rockets. Still, this was an exciting night. And if Towns and Edwards keep playing like this, there could be more to come.
Also, shoutout to Edwards for having arguably the best moment of the night when he drained a 3-pointer late in the first half and turned to the Rockets bench to tell them to call a timeout. "I was tellin' the coach to call a damn timeout," Edwards said. "You need a timeout. I'm hot."
LaVine gets new-look Bulls off to winning start
The Chicago Bulls are almost a brand new team after their busy offseason which included adding DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. There's more excitement about the Bulls than there has been in many years, but analysts are split on whether or not all of the talented players on their roster is going to fit together.
An opening-night win over the Pistons didn't exactly answer too many questions. It was a mixed performance in which they trailed for large stretches, and need a big run at the end of the fourth quarter to get a result. One definite positive, though, was Zach LaVine. He went for 34 points on 11 of 17 from the field, and added seven points and four assists. Eight of those points came in the fourth, including a number of clutch free throws to seal the win.
Barnes sets new career-high
To the extent that people pay attention to him at all now that he's on the Sacramento Kings, Harrison Barnes gets a bad rap because fans feel he's been overpaid throughout his career. Yet despite that reputation, he's quietly a very productive player.
He proved as much on Wednesday, as he led the Kings to an impressive road win over the Portland Trail Blazers, 124-121. Barnes knocked down a career-high eight 3-pointers en route to 36 points, which were also a career-best. If the Kings hope to end their 15-year playoff drought, they'll need Barnes' to deliver more performances like this.
Duarte goes for 27 in NBA debut
Chris Duarte is not one of the biggest names in this rookie class, but at 24 years old he is one of the most experienced. That's why many thought the No. 13 overall pick would be able to contribute right away, and it appears those projections are going to be correct.
In his very first NBA game, Duarte scored 27 points on 9-for-15 from the field and 6-for-9 from 3-point land and grabbed five rebounds. While his performance, unfortunately, came in defeat, as the Pacers lost a heartbreaker to the Hornets, it was a great sign for the Pacers. They'll need more of those efforts from Duarte, especially in the short term as they deal with numerous injuries.