The NBA's Christmas Day games: The gift that keeps giving

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 25, 2011 - 4:36 AM

The NBA finally opens its season with five games on Sunday.


Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks open the season with the same team they ended last season with: the Miami Heat, their victim in the NBA Finals.

Photo: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

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NBA owners willingly lost October and November to get a new cost-efficient labor deal, but they weren't willing to let Christmas Day's massive, captive television audience pass them by. From morning until late night, here are the five games that begin this lockout-shortened, 66-game season wrapped with a big, shiny bow.



Player to watch: Tyson Chandler, Knicks

The scoop: This opener has all sorts of star power -- K.G., Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Melo, Amare -- but will New York's signing of the defensive-minded center who brought Dallas a title finally make the Knicks winners with more substance than flash?

The quote: "Sometimes athleticism is kind of overrated -- look at the old Houston teams, the old Utah Jazz teams -- when you know your system and your personnel. Boston's big advantage is they know their personnel." -- NBA TV analyst Chris Webber on the decrepit, dangerous Celtics.

MIAMI AT DALLAS, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 5

Player to watch: LeBron James, Heat

The scoop: A rematch of last season's NBA Finals pits a Heat team that has since added Shane Battier against the champs that let Tyson Chandler and J.J. Barea leave Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas via free agency in the name of preserving cap space to make a run at hometown guy Deron Williams in July 2012.

The quote: "If they don't win it this season, one of the Big Three will have to go. Their window is right now. LeBron's window is right now." -- ESPN analyst Magic Johnson on the Heat.


CHICAGO AT L.A. LAKERS, 4 p.m., Ch. 5

Player to watch: Derrick Rose, Bulls

The scoop: The Bulls added veteran shooting guard Rip Hamilton to a team that won 62 games last season and reached the East finals while the Lakers, rejected by David Stern after they struck a deal for Chris Paul, dealt away Lamar Odom to rival Dallas for little more than salary relief.

The quote: "The Lamar Odom trade is a bit perplexing to me, unless it leads to a domino effect to get Dwight Howard. They're not necessarily the same team they were last year." -- NBA TV analyst Greg Anthony on the Lakers.


Player to watch: Kevin Durant, Thunder

The scoop: While New Orleans had to deal franchise player Chris Paul and the Magic might be the next, OKC has Durant -- the league's biggest offensive mismatch -- signed through 2016. On Monday, he and the Thunder come to Target Center for the Timberwolves' season opener.

The quote: "They should show him some respect and get him another dominant player. Most [successful] teams have had a definite one-two punch. Right now in Orlando, you have a one punch and no one can do it by themselves." -- TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal on Superman, Orlando All-Star center Dwight Howard.


Player to watch: Chris Paul, Clippers

The scoop: Think the NBA looks smart now? It added the Clippers to its Christmas Day schedule before the NBA's traditionally sorriest franchise transformed itself by acquiring Paul from New Orleans to team with Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler.

The quote: "I can't believe I'm saying this ... there is a legitimate question now as to who is the best team in L.A." -- TNT analyst Charles Barkley.


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Baltimore 2 FINAL
Detroit 15
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Northeastern 1 FINAL
Boston 2
Miami-Fla 1 FINAL
Miami 7
Pittsburgh 8 FINAL
Toronto 7
San Francisco 4 FINAL
Oakland 9
Cleveland 0 FINAL
Cincinnati 10
Boston College 0 FINAL
Boston 1
Arizona State 0 FINAL
Arizona 4
Boston 79 FINAL
Cleveland 110
LA Lakers 103 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Sacramento 124 FINAL
New York 86
Houston 96 FINAL
Atlanta 104
Utah 93 FINAL
Memphis 82
Washington 92 FINAL
Chicago 97
Milwaukee 95 FINAL
Denver 106
Nashville 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Calgary 3 FINAL(OT)
Philadelphia 2
Washington 5 FINAL
Columbus 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Toronto 3 FINAL
Florida 2
Ottawa 2 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 3
NY Islanders 2 FINAL(OT)
Dallas 3
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Arizona 1
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
Edmonton 2
San Jose 6 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Ole Miss 82 FINAL
Alabama 74
Eastern Mich 67 FINAL
Ball State 60
Kent State 81 FINAL
Bowling Green 80
Ohio 66 FINAL
Buffalo 93
Georgetown 60 FINAL
Butler 54
Toledo 77 FINAL
Central Mich 85
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
Dayton 75
Youngstown St 67 FINAL
Detroit 77
North Carolina 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 49
Loyola-Maryland 45 FINAL
Holy Cross 62
Iowa 77 FINAL
Indiana 63
Akron 63 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 70
Army 52 FINAL
Navy 56
Maryland 60 FINAL
Rutgers 50
Kennesaw St 54 FINAL
USC Upstate 90
Jacksonville 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 81
Lipscomb 76 FINAL
Northern Ky 73
Stetson 67 FINAL
North Florida 81
Wright State 57 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 60
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Northern Ill 65
Nebraska Omaha 80 FINAL
North Dakota 78
Houston Baptist 71 FINAL
Abilene Christian 83
NC State 66 FINAL
Clemson 61
Texas A&M 62 FINAL
Florida 66
Kentucky 72 FINAL
Georgia 64
West Virginia 69 FINAL
Kansas 76
Auburn 61 FINAL
Missouri 63
Michigan 78 FINAL
Northwestern 82
Villanova 76 FINAL
Creighton 72
Longwood 55 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 63
Charleston Southern 39 FINAL
Presbyterian 47
Coastal Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
UMass Lowell 60
West Virginia 55 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Texas 79
Fresno State 61 FINAL
Air Force 41
San Jose St 76 FINAL
Boise State 91
Nevada 61 FINAL
Colorado State 68
San Diego State 76
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Utah State 57
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