Special to ESPN.com
PAUL PIERCE MAKES HIS USUAL OPENING STATEMENT
Paul Pierce scored a team-high 23 points in Boston's 95-89 win at Cleveland on Tuesday night. Pierce has scored at least 20 points in the Celtics' first game in each of the last 11 seasons, the second-longest streak for any player in NBA history. Karl Malone holds the record; he scored 20-or-more points in his team's season-opener in 12 straight seasons. Bob Lanier, who did that in 10 consecutive seasons, ranks third on the list.
LEBRON'S 38 ARE NOT ENOUGH
LeBron James scored 38 points in Tuesday night's loss to Boston, setting a Cavaliers record for points in a season-opener. The previous high was 36 by Ron Harper in 1989. James's output was the highest against Boston in the Celtics' first game of a season since George Gervin scored 39 points in a San Antonio victory in 1977.
A HEALTHY ARENAS LEADS THE WIZARDS
Gilbert Arenas, who appeared in only two games last season, had 29 points and nine assists in Washington's opening-night victory at Dallas. Only two other players had 29-or-more points and at least nine assists in a season-opener after playing in fewer than 10 NBA games in the previous season: Sam Cassell (35 points and 11 assists) in Milwaukee's first game in 1999, after he played in eight games in the previous season and Isiah Thomas (31 points and 11 assists) in his NBA debut in 1981.
WASHINGTON GETS A FRESH START ON THE ROAD
Washington, which was 6-35 (.146) on the road last season, won at Dallas on Tuesday night, 102-91. Only one other NBA team in the last 15 years won its first road game of a season after having that poor a record away from home in the prior season: the 2006-2007 Trail Blazers.
AN EASY OPENER FOR THE DEFENDING CHAMPS
The Lakers began defense of their NBA title with a 99-92 win against a Clippers team that was 19-63 (.232) last season. Only one defending champion played its first game versus a team that had a worse record during the previous season than the 2008-09 Clippers. In October 1997, Chicago opened its season against Boston, which had gone 15-67 (.183) in the prior season and Rick Pitino's Celtics upset the Bulls, 92-85.
BRYANT BREAKS OUT AGAINST THE CLIPPERS
Kobe Bryant scored 33 points in the Lakers' opening-night win against their fellow STAPLES Center tenants. Last season, Bryant scored only 19.8 points per game in four games against the Clippers, his lowest average against any team he faced at least three times in 2008-09.
A ROUGH NIGHT ON THE BOARDS FOR THE ROCKETS
Portland had a 51-33 rebounding advantage in its opening-night victory over Houston. No Rockets player had more than five rebounds. It was only the third game in the last eight seasons in which Houston did not have a single player record at least six rebounds.
ALEX OVECHKIN: 18 GOALS IN 18 GAMES VS. PHILADELPHIA
Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of goals in the Capitals' come-from-behind win over the Flyers on Tuesday night. Ovechkin's first goal came with Washington trailing 2-0 late in the second period and his second goal, into an empty net in the final minute of the third period, clinched the Caps' 4-2 victory. The two-time NHL MVP has scored 18 goals in 18 regular-season games against the Flyers. Ovechkin's one goal per game average against Philadelphia is his highest versus any Eastern Conference team. His next best averages are against Ottawa and Toronto (15 goals in 16 games vs. each team, .938 goals per game).
WASHINGTON WINS WITH A BIG ASSIST FROM BACKSTROM
Nicklas Backstrom had a hand in all four of the Capitals' goals on Tuesday night, scoring one and assisting on three. It was Backstrom's 11th game with three or more assists in his three seasons in the NHL, tying him with Evgeni Malkin for the NHL high over that span (2007-08 to date).