Charlotte Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is a happy man. New recipient of a four-year, $48 million contract extension, he was also his team’s hero in their first game of the 2014-15 NBA season. Walker shot just 9-for-26 on the night, but two of those nine counted for a little something extra. First, Walker hit this buzzer-beating three to send the game to overtime, after the Hornets came back from more than 20 points down against the Milwaukee Bucks:
Then, he hit this chilly jumper to seal the 108-106 victory in the extra period:
Looks like Hornets owner Michael Jordan’s got plenty to smile about this morning. His packed arena caught quite the dramatic, cathartic show on the first night of the team’s triumphant return to their beloved 90’s moniker. Buzz City is back.
Meanwhile, Michael’s old team and coach squared off in Manhattan, as the Chicago Bulls stormed into Madison Square Garden for a 104-80 takedown of the New York Knicks. It was not a good start on the court for the team, now ran by zen master Phil Jackson. New York looked to be at a lack of willpower defensively, and lost in the pages of Jackson’s intricate triangle offense playbook, as implemented by rookie coach Derek Fisher.
It was, conversely, a smooth and impressive beginning for the new-look Bulls. A returned Derrick Rose didn’t need to do much as the Bulls’ second unit, led by Taj Gibson’s 22 points and eight rebounds, blew the game wide open by halftime. From there it was an exhibition of sorts, with even the annals of Chicago’s roster getting their chance for a bright Big Apple moment in garbage time.
Next for the Bulls is enemy number one, and the premiere NBA game of the week, as LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers battleship visit the United Center in Chicago for a Halloween special this Friday night.
— John Wilmes