NBA opening night reaction

Tim Cowlishaw, Dallas Morning News: How different are the Mavericks? We have a long time to try and figure that out, but clearly the arrival of Shawn Marion and Drew Gooden won’t answer all of Dallas’ problems right away. Mostly, the Mavs opened the season looking a lot like what we have seen around here. Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 but didn’t have one of his better shooting nights. The offensive energy came from J.J. Barea (13 points, six rebounds, four assists) as it often does. But it was clear in the Denver series last spring that the Mavericks just weren’t quite good enough at the defensive end of the floor. Since then, not much that was done here was designed to change that.

Brian Windhorst, Cleveland.com: It was quite obvious the Cavs were uncomfortable and in search mode from the top on down. Mike Brown was changing lineups and strategies on the fly, the defense was a mess for long stretches and the offense was in its old, but infamous, all-James, all-the-time mode in the final minutes. This, of course, is what the Cavs were afraid of after a somewhat ineffective preseason. While there’s plenty of time to deal with those bumps — though the Celtics will have strong bragging rights until the teams meet again on Feb. 25 — perhaps most disturbing was the effect of Shaquille O’Neal in his first real game as a Cav. He had just 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting with 10 rebounds in 29 minutes. Deeper than those vanilla numbers, however, was his inability to deliver at all in the fourth quarter. Three different times James went to him with the score tight and the game on the line and three different times he was unable to come through.

Jay Mariotti, Fanhouse: All it means it that this is a work in progress, that no magic carpet will sweep the Cavs into June and a much-desired Finals matchup with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. The Celtics didn’t look like a team whose Big Three is a combined 100 years old. Rather, they were energized again by the dynamic point guard, Rajon Rondo, and bolstered by the offense and outside shooting of a widely despised newcomer, Rasheed Wallace. The Cavs couldn’t match up at times with Wallace, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, and with Garnett looking sturdy and effective in his first game in seven months, the Celtics made a statement that they aren’t dead yet as a contender.

Elliott Teaford, Los Angeles Daily News:
Ron Artest had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists in his Lakers debut. At game’s end, Jackson praised Artest for his standout defensive work against Al Thornton, who had eight points on 4-for-11 shooting and nine rebounds in place of injured rookie forward Blake Griffin. “He played shut-down defense very well against their scoring forward, Thornton,” Jackson said. “I thought he looked like he was in the offensive mix most of the time.”

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