About Last Night

About Last Night: Full slate of firsts

After Tuesday's contender-filled appetizer, Wednesday offered the first main course of the 2018-19 season.

Matt Petersen, NBA.com

After Tuesday’s contender-filled appetizer, Wednesday offered the first main course of the 2018-19 season. Picking out entrees from an 11-game menu wasn’t easy, but it was a whole lot of fun.

Take a seat, grab a wad of napkins and dig in with our new daily feature, About Last Night.

Kawhi’s epic intro

Toronto’s excited about Kawhi. Like, really, really excited. And why shouldn’t they be? This is a franchise that has never boasted an All-NBA First Teamer. Live it up!

Leonard lived up to the hype, finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds in Toronto’s 116-104 win over Cleveland.

Ayton vs. Doncic

The debate preceded the Draft and continues into the regular season. Dominant college big man or European passing sensation?

One game hardly provides an answer, but Ayton made an overwhelmingly positive first impression. The No. 1 overall pick finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in Phoenix’s 121-100 victory. Doncic, meanwhile, struggled from the field (5-for-16 FG) but still amassed 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

The highlights of their first NBA clash were fast and furious in the opening minutes.

Boban bends rim

Boban Marjanovic is a very skilled and very large human being. That is why the 7-foot-3 Serbian finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in just 18 minutes on Wednesday night.

No visual lasted longer than the image of Marjanovic dunking the ball and hanging from the rim — while touching the floor at the same time. He did this twice in the fourth quarter alone.

The show of sheer size and strength was awesome. It was also very nearly damaging to the poor rim, which needed to be checked after the second dunk before play could continue.

Sidenote: Would it have been easier to have Boban fix it than have two guys dragging out the ladder?

Butler’s back

Jimmy Butler wanted (and, to the best of our knowledge, still wants) out of Minnesota. He hasn’t gotten his wish yet, but he showed up for Game One to put up 23 points in Minnesota’s loss to the Spurs.

After not practicing with the team very much during the offseason, it was only natural for guys like Andrew Wiggins to feel a little off taking passes from the discontented veteran.

Knicks fan sparks rally

It was too much of a coincidence. The Knicks’ offense was dead, an 0-for-9 eyesore against the rebuilding Atlanta Hawks. Hardly the kind of opening statement a team wants to make at home.

Then he came. The fan. The flame that ignited New York’s offense to blistering levels.

That gentleman’s excitement must have been contagious. How else do you explain the Knicks shooting 26-for-42 (61.9 percent) for the rest of the half immediately after this epic half-court banker?

Knicks’ shooting before half-court shot

Knicks’ shooting after half-court shot (first half)

Bud era begins

Would a new coach mean new results for Milwaukee?

The Bucks haven’t advanced to the second round of the playoffs since 2001. They have the star power (Giannis Antetokounmpo) to break that streak. They brought in former Coach of the Year Mike Budenholzer to make all the pieces fit around him.

One quarter into the season, the hire already looked genius. The Bucks shot 13-for-22, including 7-for-11 from 3-point range. By the time their 113-112 win was sewn up, Milwaukee finished with 49.4-percent shooting overall and 41.2 from downtown.

The number of times Milwaukee surpassed that elite 50-40 mark last season: Just 11.

Blake turned back

Remember when Blake Griffin was best known for leaping so high over people he would literally throw the ball through the basket? Knicks and Thunder fans surely do.

The former NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion appeared on the verge of creating another poster in Detroit. Everything was there. Losing the initial defender. The leap. The cocking back of the basketball.

But then something happened: Jarrett Allen.

Hometown triple-double

With Rajon Rondo off to Laker Land, the Pelicans were in need of another point guard. They got one in Louisiana native Elfrid Payton, who was drafted 10th overall in 2014 after a standout career at Louisiana at Lafayette.

Payton’s homecoming was a sweet, stat-stuffing affair. The Pelicans’ new playmaker finished with an absurdly symmetrical triple-double of 10 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds in New Orleans’ 131-112 romp over the Rockets.

The triple-double was just the fifth posted by a player in his team debut, and the first since Lewis Lloyd with the Rockets in 1983.

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