NBA regular season

Heat barely hold on against Pistons; Porzingis debuts strong for Celtics

Reuters

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Heat barely hold on against Pistons; Porzingis debuts strong for Celtics

FOCUSED. Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler looks to pass against Detroit Pistons center Isaiah Stewart.

Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Jimmy Butler and the Heat nearly blow a 19-point lead against the Pistons, while Kristaps Porzingis blitzes his former team as the Celtics top the Knicks

Bam Adebayo blocked a Cade Cunningham runner in the lane with 1:04 to go and the host Miami Heat, after nearly blowing a 19-point lead, had to sweat out three subsequent Detroit Pistons misses to escape with a 103-102 triumph in each team’s season opener Wednesday night, October 25 (Thursday, October 26, Manila time).

Adebayo put up a team-high 22 points while Jimmy Butler recorded a 19-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Heat, who used a 13-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to go up 94-75.

But Cunningham, playing for the first time in almost a year because of a stress fracture in his left leg, led a Pistons rally that nearly resulted in a shocking win over the defending Eastern Conference champs.

The comeback began with a 14-0 flurry in which Cunningham contributed two hoops and three assists, getting the Pistons within 94-89 with 6:24 to go.

Cunningham eventually accounted for the game’s final points on a three-pointer with 1:44 left, before his short-range attempt to give Detroit a late lead was rejected by Adebayo.

Cunningham also misfired on a three-pointer with 39.1 seconds left and Alec Burks missed on a driving floater nine seconds later.

Detroit got one final possession after a Kevin Love missed triple, but inbounding with just 2.1 seconds left, the best the Pistons could do was a 30-foot buzzer-beater attempt by Cunningham that was off the mark.

Love also put up a double-double for the Heat with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Tyler Herro had 16 points and Duncan Robinson 15.

Cunningham led all scorers with 30 points in 36 minutes while also finding time for a game-high 9 assists. Teammates Jalen Duren (17 points, game-high-tying 14 rebounds) and Isaiah Stewart (14 points, game-high-tying 14 rebounds) recorded double-doubles, while Killian Hayes added 10 points.

Prize rookie Ausar Thompson struggled from the field in his NBA debut, going 1-for-7, but did manage 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a game-high 5 blocked shots.

The Pistons lost despite outshooting the Heat 44.6% to 40.2% overall and outscoring the hosts 33-24 on three-pointers.

Celtics escape Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis scored 9 of his 30 points in the final 2:34 on Wednesday night for the visiting Boston Celtics, who overcame a late six-point deficit to beat the New York Knicks 108-104 in the season opener for both teams.

Porzingis drained all six of his free throws down the stretch and hit a three-pointer with 1:29 left that put Boston ahead for good at 104-101. 

His perfect performance from the foul line highlighted a fourth quarter in which the Celtics made 14-of-15 free throws. They finished the game 22-for-26 from the line.

Porzingis’ 30 points are the most ever by a Celtics player in his first game for the team. The 7-foot-3 center, who spent the first three seasons of his career with the Knicks, was acquired from the Washington Wizards on June 23.

Jayson Tatum (34 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double for the Celtics, who led by as many as 12 in the third quarter and opened the fourth with a nine-point lead before the Knicks stormed back.

RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley each had 24 points for the Knicks, who were 18-of-41 from three-point land but just 14-of-26 from the free throw line, including 5-of-9 in the fourth quarter.

Julius Randle (14 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double while Jalen Brunson scored 15 points but shot just 6-for-21 from the field. Quentin Grimes added 11 points.

Barrett scored the first 7 points of the fourth to begin a 13-2 run for the Knicks, who took their first lead at 86-84 on Josh Hart’s three-pointer with 8:56 left. 

New York twice opened up a six-point lead, the last time at 101-95 on Brunson’s floater with 3:39 left, before Jrue Holiday’s layup began the Celtics’ game-ending run.

The Knicks missed their next six shots from the field, a span in which Porzingis scored 9 unanswered points. Isaiah Hartenstein converted a putback with 18 seconds left to cut the Celtics’ lead to 106-104, but Payton Pritchard hit a pair of free throws and Brunson missed two three-point attempts in the waning seconds.

Boston led 51-46 at the break behind 19 points from Tatum. Barrett paced New York with 14. – Rappler.com

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