Wade scores 22 in Chicago debut, Bulls beat Celtics 105-99

Celtics vs. Bulls: Score, Highlights and Reaction from 2016 Regular Season
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Dwyane Wade got the ball in the corner, took a dribble to his left and stepped back for the dagger 3-pointer.

He made a throat slashing gesture with his right hand after the ball swished through the net and started jumping around as the crowd roared.

Wade scored 22 points in a triumphant Chicago debut, Jimmy Butler had 24 and the Bulls won their season opener, beating the Boston Celtics 105-99 on Thursday night.

Wade hit the clinching 3 with 26.3 seconds left. Taj Gibson added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the new-look Bulls got off to a winning start after missing the playoffs last season for the first time since 2008.

“To be able to make a shot like that and helps us get this win, it’s like the perfect storm,” Wade said.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points. Avery Bradley had 16, and Jae Crowder 14 points, but the Celtics came up short after opening with a win over Brooklyn the previous night.

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Howard, Millsap, Hardaway lead Hawks past Wizards 114-99

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Dwight Howard was everything the Hawks were hoping for in his hometown debut.

Tim Hardaway Jr. in a starring role? That was a major surprise.

Hardaway scored 21 points and ignited a fourth-quarter outburst that carried new-look Atlanta to a 114-99 victory over the Washington Wizards in the season opener Thursday night.

Howard, who returned to the city where he grew up in the Hawks’ biggest offseason move, did nothing to disappoint. He grabbed 19 rebounds — more than anyone had for Atlanta all of last season — and was a huge presence at the defensive end, disrupting shots and giving his teammates the freedom to be more aggressive on the perimeter.

Paul Millsap, for one, didn’t have to spend so much time banging on the boards. He took advantage at the offensive end, leading the Hawks with 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting.

But Hardaway was the one who really came up big, which was totally unexpected given that he was largely confined to the bench and even spent time in the D-League during his first season with the Hawks.

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Leonard, Spurs spoil Kings arena opening with 102-94 win

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Kawhi Leonard ripped the ball away from Ben McLemore and drove the other way for a three-point play. Then the next time down the court, Leonard grabbed it away from McLemore and scored on the other end.

Those two plays turned the momentum San Antonio’s way and sent the Spurs home with a very successful season-opening trip following a 102-94 victory over the Kings on Thursday night that spoiled the regular season opener at Sacramento’s new downtown arena.

Leonard is the first player to put together back-to-back 30-point, five-steal games since Eddie Jones did it for Miami in December 2002.

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Clippers open the season with a 114-106 win over Portland

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The Los Angeles Clippers’ goal in their opener was to keep the Portland Trail Blazers from making 3-pointers.

The strategy worked: Portland made just four of 18 attempts from the perimeter and the Clippers came away with a 114-106 victory Thursday night.

Chris Paul said the Clippers had the luxury of being able to watch Portland’s opener two days before.

“We just saw the clinic they put on at the 3-point line, so we just tried to make it tough on them and get them inside the line,” said Paul, who had 27 points.

Blake Griffin also had 27 points and added 13 rebounds in what was a contentious game that had fans booing the officials after two flagrant fouls called on Portland players in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul hit a 3-pointer that gave the Clippers a 102-90 lead with 4:07 left and the crowd headed for the exits.

The Clippers were the last team in the Western Conference to start the season. Portland opened at home on Tuesday with a 113-104 victory over Utah that included 13 3-pointers.

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