Rookie leads upset over champs
Very few people saw this coming.
The Sixers, predicted by most experts to finish last in the NBA, went out and played a superb game with a season-opening 114-110 victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat.
The crowd of 19,523 was electric, especially down the stretch when the Sixers stunningly pulled away.
It’s an 82-game regular season, but this was sure something to celebrate.
On the same day Allen Iverson officially announced his retirement, the Sixers played with that same raw emotion and carved out an impressive win.
“We’re going to bring it every night,” said center Spencer Hawes, who had 24 points and nine rebounds. “We’re going to play hard and tonight we played hard and smart. We have a competitive group here and we’re going to play to win.”
With the likes of Charles Barkley, Bobby Jones, Moses Malone, Julius Erving, Billy Cunningham and, of course, Iverson in the building, the Sixers put on a show.
The show was led by none other than rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams. In his first regular-season game, the Syracuse product came up with 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds. He stepped to the free-throw line and hit a pair of clutch shots with 8.5 seconds left to seal the victory.
Those 22 points were the most by a Sixers rookie since Iverson accomplished the feat with 30 against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 1, 1996.
Pressure? What pressure?
“This day couldn’t have gone any better,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m just waiting to celebrate with my family.”
There was so much to celebrate on this night.
In a season with very low expectations, while anchoring for a top draft pick, the young Sixers reached down and showed something to the fans.
“It was a great win for us,” said Turner, who actually led the Sixers with 26 points. “It seemed as if everyone was against us and we stuck together here. We proved what we can do. It’s a great feeling to put it all together against a great team like the Heat.”