NBA: Opening Day Review

October 30th, 2008

By: Steve Kyler

Marbury And Curry Benched: Despite a 40 point fourth quarter from the Miami HEAT, the New York Knicks under Mike D'Antoni did what he was brought in to do. He won, in entertaining, high-scoring fashion. The Knicks dropped Miami 120-115 and after the game virtually everyone was smiles - except for Eddy Curry and Stephon Marbury who both received "DNP-Coaches Decision." After the game D'Antoni expressed that he understood it was a delicate emotional situation, saying he knew both were upset, he knew both wanted to play and basically said that neither was in his plans going forward. The Knicks had six players score in double figures, and several Knicks players after the game said they felt positive about the new offense in New York as they all started to see what players in Phoenix saw under D' Antoni – there will be tons of shot attempts in New York. For Marbury and Curry, both players dressed and neither was even considered as options. Marbury told reporters after the game he was fine with the decision. "This is a business... I understand the decision. If that's the way they want to go, I'm fine with it." We'll see how long that lasts. Steph put in a ton of work this off-season and is in great shape, it would be surprising if he allows the Knicks to shelve all of that work. Eddy Curry left the bench for the Knicks in the fourth quarter to "ice his knees."

Pop's Joke On Shaq: Suns center Shaquille O'Neal has been very vocal over the past few days about how "cowardly" the Spurs, namely head coach Gregg Popovich, are for deliberately fouling him. When asked last night just prior to the game against the Suns if he planned to foul Shaq early. He said he wasn't sure, then a reporter joked how about after the tip? Pop laughed and thought that was a good idea. Imagine the dismay of the reporters when he did exactly that. Five seconds into the game, immediately following the tip. Spurs guard Michael Finely wrapped his arms around Shaq drawing a whistle. Shaq looked around puzzled at the call, only to find Greg Popovich looking his way with both thumbs in the air smiling. Shaq smiled back, the two had a good laugh about it, then Shaq went on to score 13 points, grab 15 rebounds and get the win on San Antonio's floor in a convincing fashion. Guess Shaq got the last laugh, going 5 for 8 from the free throw line.

How Bout Them Hawks?: Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy did his best to try and take the blame for the egg Orlando laid last night in their opener. Claiming that he had no offensive plays in the play book that could get the Magic offense going, and that in turn forced his players to force the issue trying to make something work. It didn't, and the Magic got waxed by the Hawks 99-85, which is about as close as this game ever got with Orlando being down by 15 for most of the night. Give credit to the Hawks - they have the Magic's number. They give Orlando fits every time they play. The Hawks were in mid-season form and absolutely focused on winning on the road, something every player in the Hawks' locker room said was a goal for this season. Orlando on the other hand looked dreadful in almost every aspect of the game. The aggressive J.J. Redick who arrived in pre-season didn't bother showing up last night. Redick was 0-4 from the field, 0-3 from three-point range in 19 minutes of play as the first guard off the bench. That same tentative "pass the ball-not shoot it" Redick from seasons past was on the floor for Orlando. In an amusing moment in the game J.J. Redick was brought in from the bench to guard Atlanta's Flip Murray. Murray realizing Redick was checking in to guard him got wide-eyed like a kid at Christmas, and started working J.J. to the basket at will. A photographer sitting on the baseline captured the look on Murray's face, which was priceless. After the game Flip sort of dodged the question out of respect for J.J., but when told there was a picture of the moment Flip kind of smiled and said he enjoyed the game – he hung 14 points in 23 minutes of play. On a night when the Magic were celebrating their 20th season in the NBA, honoring their inaugural team during the introduction. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he thought his team played with as much energy as those long retired players who were in attendance would have played; they clearly looked like an expansion team last night. The Magic will hold a "spirited" practice today and head to Memphis this evening to try and right the ship. A great start for the Hawks, a dreadful start for the 0-1 Magic.

And Then There Were Two: Every team in the league has played a game except for the Charlotte Bobcats and the Dallas Mavericks. The Lakers already have two games under their belts, both of them convincing wins. The Bobcats will see the Cavaliers tonight, after going winless in pre-season. The Cavs dropped their opener to the Celtics and barring something crazy, will likely even things up at the expense of the Bobcats. The Mavericks host the Rockets tonight in Dallas where an official announcement regarding the 2010 NBA All-Star Game is expected. The Rockets got their first win of the season last night against Memphis, who actually outscored Houston in the second and third quarters, but the Rockets bounced back to put the Grizz away 82-71.