Most Unexpected Near Triple-Double
On a night triple-double machines LeBron James and Rajon Rondo both played, plus great passing big man Pau Gasol, the closest anyone came to recording this season's first triple-double was forgotten Cavalier Anderson Varejao. In a pretty easy win over the Nene-less Wizards, he of the Sideshow Bob hairdo scored 9 points, dished out 9 assists, and grabbed 23 boards (as many as Dwight Howard and Gasol combined). Rondo (20-7-13) and Gasol (23-13-6) were each sort of close.
Best Lines By Reserves
Ray Allen, Miami Heat
19 points, 5-for-7 shooting (2/3 threes, 7/8 FT's), 2 assists (0 turnovers)
Rodrigue Beaubois, Dallas Mavericks
11 points, 4-for-8 shooting, 5 assists (0 turnovers), 1 steal
Rashard Lewis, Miami Heat
10 points, 4-for-5 shooting (1/2 threes), 5 rebounds, 1 block
Best Performance By A Rookie
Some fans might be quick to give Cleveland's Dion Waiters this honor considering he put up 17 points and 3 steals in his pro debut, but he didn't exactly stand out by taking 14 shots and turning the ball over 3 times with 0 assists (he's a guard, btw), all against the lowly Wizards. I was a little more impressed by Dallas' second-rounder Jae Crowder. The 6-feet-6 PF came off the bench against the giant Lakers to score 8 points on 3-for-7 shooting (2/4 from deep), grab 3 boards, get 2 assists with 0 turnovers, and pick up a steal. It's not a great line and admittedly similar in scoring efficiency to Waiters (who is supposed to be a big-time scorer, especially compared to a second-rounder like Crowder), but he did a little of everything, all efficiently, against a big-time opponent who has all the size and muscle that should have overwhelmed the newbie.
Worst Reason For An Unexpected Loss
The Lakers were already the highest paid team in the league and certainly one of its most star-laden, so adding Dwight Howard and Steve Nash in the offseason doesn't exactly get the franchise any "but they're a new team with a new system" sympathy. Consider a club like the Mavericks, who played their opening night game without Dirk Nowitzki or Chris Kaman (their only talented bigs who are taller than 6-feet-8), on the road in LA, and with only one returning player who was a consistent starter last year (Shawn Marion). Not only that, of their 7 players last night who all played at least 20 minutes, only 2 were on the Mavericks in 2011-12 (Marion and Vince Carter). If you include all 9 players who logged at least 15 minutes last night, you still only add a third guy who was a Dallas returnee (Rodrigue Beaubois). It's tough to suggest with a straight face that the Lakers haven't gelled yet as the reason they lost last night when it was the "new"er Mavericks who did them in; LA still had household name starters Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Metta World Peace, plus offensive rebounding machine Jordan Hill coming off the bench.