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Knicks 104, Heat 84
Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and the Knicks gave suffering New Yorkers something to cheer with a victory over Miami in their storm-delayed season opener Friday night.
In the first sporting event in New York since Superstorm Sandy, the Knicks dominated a game the Heat players weren't sure should even be played with the city still so devastated. But the Knicks hoped they could provide a distraction for a few hours, and fans who were able to watch surely loved what they saw from a team that could barely compete with Miami last season.
Steve Novak, a non-factor against the Heat in last season's playoffs, added 17 points off the bench and Raymond Felton had 14 points and nine assists to begin his second stint with the Knicks.
LeBron James scored 23 points for the Heat, so impressive in a season-opening victory over Boston on Tuesday but never really in this one. Dwyane Wade, who thought the game should be postponed, finished with 15 points and Chris Bosh had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Heat beat the Knicks in five games in last season's first round, and at least for one night New York appears to have closed the gap on the champs.
But the focus surrounding this one had little to do with basketball.
Even Knicks players weren't sure what kind of crowd to expect with many New Yorkers in such bad shape and perhaps unable to travel to the game with the city's transit system crippled. But Madison Square Garden was packed and lively from well before the tip right through their loud cheers when Rasheed Wallace, retired the last two seasons, entered with about 3 minutes left.
Anthony took the microphone before the game and thanked fans for coming out, telling them that this was the "most important time for the city of New York to come together as one and build the city back up." There was then a moment of silence for the victims of the disaster.
It wasn't long before it was loud again.
Anthony hit two 3-pointers in a 10-0 run that gave New York a quick 11-point lead, and he followed six consecutive points by JR Smith by pulling up for a long 3-pointer and a 30-12 lead with 1:14 left in the first quarter. Anthony was even further away when he tossed in another 3 at the buzzer, capping his 16-point period and giving the Knicks a 33-17 advantage.
The Heat couldn't get the deficit into single digits in the second, but were within 55-44 at halftime following 13 points from Wade after his scoreless first period. Anthony was 1 of 9 in the second after hitting six of 10 shots in the first.
But he had consecutive baskets in the Knicks' run of seven straight points early in the third, and the lead grew to 75-62 on Novak's 3-pointer with 3:12 remaining in the period. New York was ahead 81-63 headed to the fourth.
The Knicks' scheduled opener at Brooklyn on Thursday night was postponed, and Heat players thought this one would be, too. Wade was so sure the Heat weren't coming to New York that he didn't even bother to pack until after practice Thursday.
Bucks 99, Celtics 88
Brandon Jennings had 21 points, 13 assists and six steals and Milwaukee won its opening game for the first time in six years with a victory over Boston.
The Bucks never trailed after the first 6 minutes and led by at least 11 points throughout the second half as the Celtics, who allowed the second-fewest points in the NBA last season, struggled defensively for the second consecutive game. They lost 120-107 to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, matching the most points they allowed in any game last season.
Boston, in its home opener, was led by Kevin Garnett with 15 points and Rajon Rondo with 14 points and 11 assists. The Celtics lost their first three games last season.
The biggest cheers of the night went to David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox designated hitter seated in the front row at midcourt.
A baseball official with knowledge of the negotiations said the team and Ortiz had agreed to a two-year, $26 million deal. Several fans shouted "congratulations" to Ortiz as he walked to his seat early in the third quarter. A loud cheer went up when he was shown on the video scoreboard, then he raised his left arm straight up to acknowledge the crowd.