Cleveland Cavaliers guard LeBron James, right, greets Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal (32) before the start of their game Thursday, Nov. 4, 2004, in Miami. The Heat won, 92-86.
AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez
CHARLOTTE, N.C. The NBA returned to Charlotte on Thursday night after a two-year absence, but the expansion Bobcats opened their inaugural season with a 103-96 loss to the Washington Wizards.
Replacing the Hornets after they moved to New Orleans in 2002, the Bobcats are expected to struggle mightily this season. Still, they were in this one late as they tried to become the third consecutive expansion team to win its NBA debut, following Vancouver and Toronto (1995).
Charlotte fell short because of youth and inexperience. The game was tied at 85 midway through the fourth quarter when turnovers and poor shot selection allowed the Wizards to go on a decisive 9-0 run.
Heat 92, Cavaliers 86
MIAMI Shaquille O'Neal had 17 points and nine rebounds in his home debut for his new team and Dwyane Wade scored 28 points as Miami beat Cleveland before 20,235 Shaq-crazed fans the largest crowd to see a Heat home game.
Coming off Wednesday's 23-point win at New Jersey, the Heat never trailed and improved to 2-0 for the fourth time in their 17-year history.
Drew Gooden scored 24 points and LeBron James had 21 points and eight rebounds for Cleveland (0-2).
Showing no ill effects of the strained left hamstring that bothered him throughout training camp, O'Neal played 32 minutes and shot 7-of-17 from the floor.
Nuggets 94, Timberwolves 92, OT
DENVER Earl Boykins hit a jumper with 6.8 seconds left in overtime and Carmelo Anthony had 19 points and 14 rebounds to help the Denver Nuggets win their home opener.
Denver had trouble shooting in its first game without Voshon Lenard, who tore his Achilles' tendon in Tuesday night's season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Nuggets shot just 38 percent and missed six straight attempts in overtime before Boykins' winner from the wing.
Kenyon Martin had 18 points and 13 rebounds in his home debut with Denver, while Andre Miller added 19.
Kevin Garnett had 25 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and five blocked shots, but he couldn't come through on Minnesota's final shot. Last year's NBA MVP was short on a turnaround jumper after tying the game at 88 on a jump hook with 10.5 seconds left in regulation.
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