Lakers reserves stun Clippers in season opener

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LOS ANGELES — Pau Gasol and Steve Nash watched the entire fourth quarter from the bench. Kobe Bryant sat one row behind them in a black shirt and suit.

The Lakers’ three veteran stars were spectators for one remarkable show put on by five Lakers reserves who weren’t ready to cede Los Angeles supremacy to their Staples Center rivals.

Xavier Henry scored a career-high 22 points, Jordan Farmar added 16, and the Lakers surged past the Los Angeles Clippers in the final minutes for a 116-103 victory in both clubs’ season opener Tuesday night.

By the time the Lakers’ reserves were done with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, coach Doc Rivers’ Clippers debut was wrecked — and so were many preconceptions about the Lakers’ prospects this season. The Lakers’ 76 bench points were the most in club history since March 1985.

“It’s not a bad thing to be the underdog sometimes,” said Jodie Meeks, who scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. “No expectations. We go out there and play hard. What’s the worst that can happen? We lose, and people say we’re no good?”

The Lakers’ 41-point fourth quarter was downright stunning, but the identities of the players responsible for this exciting, free-flowing opener were even more jaw-dropping.

“Mike (D’Antoni) did a great thing: He didn’t bring his starters back in,” Rivers said. “There was a point where I was thinking: ‘Please bring them back in.’”

A team that was 28th in the NBA in reserve scoring last season got outstanding bench play from a five-man unit, including three guys who weren’t even on the team last season: Wesley Johnson, two-time NBA champion Farmar, and Henry, the former first-round pick who burned out in Memphis and New Orleans.

A new season is a chance for a fresh start, and Henry needs one just as much as the Lakers. He scored 12 points in the fourth quarter while leading a 28-8 run.

“We’re a deep team, and people don’t think we’re that good,” Henry said. “That always fuels us. People are saying we’re going to finish 12th or whatever, but we have a great group of guys who go out there and play hard. We’re young. We’re athletic. We get after it.”

The long-established hoops hierarchy in Los Angeles flipped earlier this year: The Clippers won a division title and became veteran championship contenders, while the Lakers lost their stars to injury or free agency and prepared for a long rebuilding process.

At least in the opener, the Lakers flipped it again — and embarrassed Rivers in the process.

“We were not ready tonight,” said Rivers, the longtime Celtics coach who hopes to push the Clippers into title contention. “(The Lakers) have heard for probably the last two months how good (the Clippers) were going to be ... so you knew that they were going to play like this was the world championship — with that type of energy. And I thought we never matched it. Everything they did was harder than us and more physical than us. They destroyed us on the glass and destroyed us in turnovers. So it was a good lesson for us.”

Griffin scored 19 points and Paul had 15 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, who beat the Lakers four times last season on the way to their first Pacific Division title. DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Heat 107, Bulls 95

MIAMI (AP) — Shane Battier went 4 for 4 from 3-point range, including a critical one from the right corner with 1:33 remaining, and Miami wasted most of a 25-point lead before holding off Derrick Rose and Chicago 107-95 on Tuesday night in the season-opener for both teams.

LeBron James scored 17 points for Miami, which got its 2013 NBA championship rings in a pregame ceremony. The Heat trailed 9-2 early, then outscored Chicago 52-24 over the remainder of the first half.

Rose finished with 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting in 34 minutes in his first game since a serious knee injury in April 2012. Carlos Boozer had 31 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, which got within eight points in the final minutes.

Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Battier finished with 14 and Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers each had 13 for Miami, which had seven players score in double figures.

Pacers 97, Magic 87

INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored 24 points, and Roy Hibbert added 16 rebounds and seven blocks to lead Indiana.

George’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave Indiana a 69-64 lead and sparked the decisive 17-4 run to open the fourth.

Hibbert nearly matched his career-high for rebounds (17) in the first half. He had eight points but left the game midway through the fourth quarter after injuring his knee in a spill underneath his own basket. Team officials said it was not serious and he could have returned.

Victor Oladipo, the ex-Hoosiers star and No. 2 overall draft pick, had 12 points and three turnovers for the Magic.

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