CLEVELAND, Sporting Alert — LeBron James had 29 points and 16 rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics and Kyrie Irving 102-99 in the NBA season opener for both teams on Tuesday night.
James, who played through a sore left ankle, shot 12 of 19 and dished out nine assists across a team-high 41 minutes for the Cavs.
Kevin Love scored 15 points and hit a big 3-pointer with 46.3 second left to put Cleveland up by four, while grabbing 11 rebounds in the win at Quicken Loans Arena.
Derrick Rose finished with 14 points, Jae Crowder added 11 and JR Smith ended with 10 for the Cavaliers, who shot 45.8 percent.
Dwyane Wade went 3 of 10 from the field for eight points with three assists and four turnovers in his 29-minute Cavs debut.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 25 points to go with six rebounds and three steals.
Irving, who was greeted by boos in his return to Cleveland, added 22 points, 10 assists and three steals against his former club on the losing end.
He also missed a potential game-tying 3-point attempt as time expired.
“It’s a really hard game for a guy to play, especially the first game of the season with all the emotion you have to go through,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “How he can play at that level is beyond me.”
Rookie Jayson Tatum, starting in his first NBA game, finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and three assists for the Celtics, who had to play most of the game without new forward Gordon Hayward, who fractured his ankle minutes into his debut.
Hayward suffered a terrible left ankle injury a little over five minutes into his Celtics debut after he came down hard on his left foot and left Quicken Loans Arena on a stretcher.
“You hurt for him,” Stevens said of Hayward, who only joined Boston from Utah in the summer. “It’s a tough, tough deal, but I guess that’s part of the risk of injury. I really feel for him.”
James also commented: “My thoughts and prayers go out to Gordon’s family. Hope for a speedy recovery, a healthy recovery.
“Those are the injuries that you never see coming, you never want to happen, no matter who it is, no matter what the stature, no matter how much competitive nature that you have. It’s just very unfortunate.”