They chanted “O-le, Ole Ole Ole” for Ricky Rubio in Minneapolis, and an M-V-P” chant was bestowed on — of all people — Renaldo Balkman of the Knicks at the Prudential Center in Newark.
There was real basketball played Friday and Saturday around the NBA as the truncated preseason began, so let’s take a quick look at who was turning heads:
Knicks 92, Nets 83
With the off-the-court focus on whether Baron Davis will join the Knicks (or the Lakers, or the Heat) and Mike D’Antoni’s pronouncement that New York can compete for the championship, Iman Shumpert had the defensive play of the game by stripping Deron Williams of the ball and going in for what should have been an uncontested dunk — if Shumpert hadn’t leapt too soon. Balkman scored a game-high 20 as Amare Stoudemire shot just 3-of-11.
Timberwolves 117, Bucks 96
The “Ole” chant came in the fourth quarter after Rubio (who came off the bench behind Luke Ridnour) fed rookie Derrick Williams for an alley-oop dunk. Must-have fantasy player Kevin Love had 21 points and 15 rebounds, and Love, Williams and Michael Beasley went a combined 6-for-6 on 3-point shots in the second quarter (Love was 3-for-3) as Minnesota shot 10-for-11 from behind the arc in the fist half. Stephen Jackson (back) did not play for the Bucks.
Warriors 107, Kings 96
Golden State coach Mark Jackson has devoted 95 percent of the team’s practice time to defense, and it showed as the Warriors opened an 11-point lead after one quarter and were ahead 19 at the half. It should be noted that the Warriors didn’t have to defend DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) or Chuck Hayes (heart abnormality), which helped them to a 47-32 rebounding advantage. Kings rookie Jimmer Fredette played 35 minutes, scored 21 points and made four 3-pointers.
Rockets 101, Spurs 87
Gregg Popovich didn’t even bring Tim Duncan and Tony Parker on the trip, and Luis Scola had 20 points in 21 1/2 minutes, Jordan Hill had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Terrence Williams and Goran Dragic were solid in the fourth quarter after the Rockets blew most of an early 22-point lead. Amnesty evaders Richard Jefferson (1-for-4, 2 points in 19 minutes) and Hasheem Thabeet (four points, four fouls in 19 minutes) struggled.
Bulls 95, Pacers 86
Tom Thibodeau had his starters on the court at the end of the fourth quarter, and Derrick Rose said he prepared for this matchup as though it was a playoff game. Rip Hamilton, the newest Bull, did not play. Jarrid Famous of the Pacers did, and put up a 2 trillion.
76ers 103, Wizards 78
The Wizards’ new unis looked sharp, but they did not. Washington fell behind by 40 points in the third quarter, and John Wall was sloppy with six turnovers and just eight points. Thaddeus Young was a plus-27 in 19 minutes, while the Wizards had 10 assists and 20 turnovers as a team.
Cavaliers 91, Pistons 87
Touted by Chris Bernucca as the Game of the Weak, Kyrie Irving (21 points) made five free throws in the final minute to end a sloppy display of basketball from what should be two of the NBA’s worst teams. Fantasy sleeper alert: Austin Daye had five blocks and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes of the bench for Detroit.
Hornets 97, Grizzlies 90
Chris Who? Jarrett Jack had 21 points six assists, no turnovers and three steals for the team that traded Chris Paul to the Clippers earlier in the week. None of the new Hornets played, and rookie free agent Justin Dentmon had the negative line of the night, with a minus-11 in 4:45 of playing time.