MIAMI – LeBron James got cramps, Ray Allen was snubbed and Dwyane Wade was steaming.
None of that spoiled the Miami Heat mood on ring night.
Wade scored 29 points, James finished 26 points and 10 rebounds while missing much of the second half because of cramps in both legs, and the reigning NBA champion Heat beat the Boston Celtics 120-107 on Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.
There were actual fireworks before the game to close the ceremony where the Heat got their championship rings and raised their title banner. There also were plenty of figurative fireworks late, first with Boston almost digging out of a 19-point hole and, after the outcome was decided, Rajon Rondo flagrantly fouling Wade by wrapping his arms around his neck on a drive.
In the end, though, the first Celtics-Heat matchup of this season was like the final one of last season – with Miami winning.
“It was good to cap this night off with a win,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It was an emotional time for all of us in our organization.”
Even for the newcomer Allen. He scored 19 points – needing only seven field goal attempts – in his first game with Miami since leaving Boston over the summer. Chris Bosh had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Miami.
Allen got chants from the Heat crowd, which is nothing new. Except this time, they were positive.
“Never thought I’d hear that here,” Allen said.
Paul Pierce scored 23 points, Rondo finished with 20 points and 13 assists, and Leandro Barbosa scored 16 for Boston. The Celtics, who lost to the Heat in last season’s Eastern Conference finals, were not on the court for the ring ceremony.
They almost wrecked the festive mood with a late comeback.
An 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter got Boston within 111-107 on Courtney Lee’s layup with 2:09 left. That was the last Celtics’ hurrah – Bosh scored the game’s next seven points, sealing it for Miami.
“I thought they were the aggressor the whole game,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “They got on the floor where they wanted to get on the floor. They took us out of stuff that they wanted to.”
Rashard Lewis scored 10 points for Miami, which held on even while James, last season’s regular-season and finals MVP, was in the locker room for the second time because of the leg cramps.
“It’s not an all-the-time thing,” James said. “I’m not too worried about it.”
Late in the game, Wade drove past Rondo, and the Celtics guard grabbed Wade around the neck. Wade appeared as though he was ready to throw the ball at Rondo in retaliation, and stopped himself.
“I thought he hooked me,” Rondo said.
Wade had a different opinion.
“It was a punk play by him,” Wade said. “The league will take care of it. He clotheslined me, with two hands.”
So Rondo raised eyebrows by putting hands on Wade. Kevin Garnett made news by not offering his hand to Allen.
As Allen entered the game for the first time, he trotted toward the Boston bench, exchanging a handshake, embrace and a few words with Rivers, who hasn’t hidden his displeasure about his former shooting guard’s decision to sign with Miami and didn’t sound certain before the game how he would react when he saw Allen in Miami colors. Allen then briskly shook hands with a few assistant coaches.
But when Allen tried to engage Garnett, the mutual pleasantries ended. Allen tapped Garnett on the shoulder as he sat on the Boston bench; Garnett didn’t even flinch, staring straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the gesture in any way.
“I was just trying to focus as much as I could. I am such an intense person,” Garnett said. “It was a blank. Obviously he’s on the other side. It’s time to play the game, man.”
Allen didn’t seem flustered. His first shot in a Miami uniform was – what else? – a corner 3-pointer, which he swished.
“He was by himself in the corner,” Rivers said. “You’d think we’d know better.”