Friday, May 27, 2022

NBA opening week takeaways: Knicks outlast Celtics in double-overtime; LaMelo Ball puts on a show

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

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. 

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 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.”

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