Thursday's roundup: LeBron's homecoming a dud
Cleveland — LeBron James shot miserably. His passes were errant. He didn't look good doing much other than tossing powder in the air.
His homecoming was horrendous.
"I didn't press," James said, dismissing nerves as a factor. "I didn't do much."
James struggled from the start in his first game with Cleveland in four years, and the New York Knicks ruined the megastar's emotional return home with a 95-90 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night.
James, who returned to the Cavs and his native Ohio this summer after winning two NBA titles in Miami, finished with 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting. He also committed eight turnovers and never looked comfortable on a night when the entire city — and a star-studded crowd — celebrated his comeback.
"It was a special night," he said. "I'm glad it was great, but I'm also glad it's over."
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points and buried a baseline jump shot with James in his face with 25 seconds left to give the Knicks a 92-87 lead.
Kyrie Irving scored 22 and Kevin Love added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Cavs, who have some work to before they can start thinking about winning any titles.
Iman Shumpert and Jason Smith had 12 points apiece for the Knicks, who were embarrassed at home on Wednesday by Chicago but then returned the favor on a monumental night for Cleveland.
"It was pretty incredible," New York forward Amare Stoudemire said, describing the atmosphere. "I haven't seen anything like that before. The city was on fire. It was great to kind of spoil the excitement — great for us."
James was greeted with a thunderous ovation before the game by more than 20,000 fans, who had been counting down the days until the opener since he announced he was coming back home in a touching essay on July 11. There were thousands more packing the streets outside Quicken Loans Arena as an entire region came together to welcome him.
This was more than a game for Cleveland. It was a homecoming, an event and a city-wide block party rolled into one.
The Knicks wrecked it, giving rookie coach Derek Fisher his first win.
"You've got to give them credit," Irving said. "They made tough shots."
New York, booed at times by the Madison Square Garden crowd a night earlier, built a seven-point lead in the third quarter and was up 86-77 on Anthony's bucket with 3:07 remaining.
With James unable to find his shot, Irving kept Cleveland close and his jumper brought the Cavs within 88-85 with 1:43 left. But J.R. Smith hit a jump shot, and after James made a driving layup, Anthony knocked down his baseline jumper with his good friend guarding him to put away the Cavs.
James started poorly, shooting just 1-of-9 from the field in the first half. He also had a miscommunication with Irving, who broke to the basket just as James was firing him a pass and the ball flew into the first row of seats next to film director and super Knicks fan Spike Lee.
"I was throwing passes where I thought some of my teammates were," said James, who sat out Cleveland's final preseason game and welcomed a new baby girl last week. "Those things will come."
Cleveland's best moments came before the game.
Afraid to miss a single moment, the sold-out crowd, which included pop star Justin Bieber, Browns players Johnny Manziel and Joe Haden, and R&B artist Usher, stood as soon as James emerged from the tunnel.
As tip-off approached, a new Nike commercial in which James huddles his teammates together and the entire city joins them, was shown on the Q's gargantuan new scoreboard. The crowd reacted throughout the poignant piece and James watched along with crowd from the bench, nodding his head in appreciation when it ended.
He's home, but he didn't come back just to reunite with friends and family. James wants to win a title for this title-starved town, which hasn't celebrated a pro sports championship since 1964.
The journey has started. It won't be easy.
"It was one game," James said, "and we've got to learn from it."
More Thursday games
(At) Dallas 120, Utah 102: Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 points and Dallas celebrated the return of two key pieces from the franchise's only championship team in a home-opening victory over Utah.
Tyson Chandler, the center and emotional leader when Dallas beat Miami for the title three years ago, had 13 points and six rebounds in his first home game since leaving in free agency not long after celebrating the crown.
J.J. Barea, the diminutive guard and 2011 NBA Finals spark who was re-acquired a day earlier, got a standing ovation when he came off the bench late in the first quarter. He had four points.
Derrick Favors had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Jazz, who fell behind by 30 points in the first half of a tough back-to-back after an opening loss to Houston at home.
Washington 105, (at) Orlando 98: John Wall had 30 points and 12 assists, and Washington held off a late surge to beat Orlando.
Marcin Gortat added 20 points and 12 rebounds. All five starters scored in double figures as Washington earned its fifth straight victory over its division rival.
The Magic trailed by three at the half, only to be outscored 28-15 in the third quarter. Orlando recovered in the fourth and rallied to trim what had been a 17-point Washington lead to two with less than a minute to play. But Wall got free for a driving layup to help preserve the victory.
Nik Vucevic led the Magic with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Orlando finished with 18 turnovers, matching its total from its season opener.
Kemba Walker has seen NBA basketball in Charlotte at its worst. He's willing to stick around to see it at its best. The diminutive point guard said that's why he agreed to a contract extension Thursday which allows him to remain with the Hornets instead of testing the free agent market.
"Now that we're a good team, I want to keep us good," Walker said Thursday at a press conference at the team's downtown arena. "I want to be in the middle of that."
Walker signed a four-year, $48 million contract extension with the Hornets, a person familiar with the deal said Tuesday night. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the deal had not been announced publicly.
... Knicks starting point guard Jose Calderon is expected to miss at least two weeks with a sprained right calf.
... The NBA hired former Wasserman Media Group executive Malcolm Turner to be the president of its Development League.