CLEVELAND (AP) -- Here's a change, LeBron James was a witness.
James observed most of Cleveland's exhibition opener from the
bench, while Paul Pierce scored 17 points to rally the Boston
Celtics to a 109-93 victory over the Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
James played just 17 minutes, scoring six points with two
rebounds and three assists before being pulled by coach Mike Brown,
who wants to cut his superstar's minutes this season to keep him
"I had a long summer, and he knows that," said James, who
spent two months playing for the U.S. team at the worlds
championships in Japan. "We're going to be smart about it (playing
James, whose "Witness" T-shirts and commercials for Nike
became a rage last year in the playoffs, spent the third and fourth
quarters kicking back on the bench. He joked with teammates and
jumped out of his seat when rookie guard Shannon Brown got free for
an emphatic breakaway dunk.
Pierce, the only player in the NBA last season to lead his team
in points, rebounds, assists and steals, went 4-of-12 from the
field but he was fouled on several drives and finished 9-of-16 from
the free throw line.
Sebastian Telfair added 12 points and Kendrick Perkins had 10
for the Celtics, who went 33-49 last season. Boston trailed by 11
points in the first quarter but outscored the Cavs 83-59 over the
"What we're trying to do is establish an identity," Celtics
coach Doc Rivers said. "Other than the first nine minutes I was
Mike Brown was not as he stared at a box score. He reeled off
lopsided statistics that underscored Boston's win and his
"Let's see, we gave up 19 offensive rebounds, 48 percent
shooting, 109 points, 28 turnovers," he said. "It's going to be
hard to win."
Drew Gooden scored 16 points for the Cavaliers, playing their
first home game since blowing Game 6 to Detroit in last season's
Eastern Conference semifinals. They unveiled a new, two-tone court
and offseason additions to a team that went 50-32 last season and
made the playoffs for the first time since 1998.
Entering his fourth year as a pro, James averaged 42.5 minutes
per game last season -- second only to Philadelphia's Allen Iverson.
Brown needs James on top of his game in June, not October, and
plans to trim James' playing time to 40 minutes.
"I'm going to get him time (off)," he said. "If I don't, I
didn't do my job."
James took just 20 seconds to make his first highlight-worthy
play, making a steal and driving for a jam to delight Cleveland
fans expecting more big things from him and the Cavaliers this
He signed a contract extension during the summer and is under
contract for four more seasons with Cleveland, which is hoping
James can deliver the club its first NBA title.
Like James, Gooden received a long-term commitment from
Cleveland this summer, signing a three-year, $23 million contract
as a restricted free agent. The 6-foot-10 Gooden averaged 10.7
points per game last season and the Cavs may count on him more on
offense so James doesn't have to try and do it all.
Gooden made his first seven shots from the field and finished
8-of-10 with six rebounds in 17 minutes.