All-Star forward Gordon Hayward, playing his first game as a Celtic, broke his left ankle in the first quarter of a 102-99 loss to the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Houston edged defending champion Golden State 122-121 in the other game on opening night.
CLEVELAND – Gordon Hayward’s face was etched in pain and shock.
Of all the intriguing subplots for this hyped homecoming and a season opener between heated rivals, a serious injury to Hayward wasn’t on the list.
Boston’s season changed in a gruesome instant Tuesday.
All-Star Hayward, one of the new Celtics who was going to help them close the gap on Cleveland, broke his left ankle five minutes into his debut with the team, and Boston was beaten 102-99 on Tuesday night by LeBron James and the Cavaliers.
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Hayward’s horrific injury overshadowed guard Kyrie Irving’s return to Cleveland.
After the 27-year-old Hayward, who previously played for the Utah Jazz, was wheeled from Quicken Loans Arena on a stretcher, offering a thumbs-up on his way to the ambulance, the Celtics rallied but came up short.
“You hurt for him,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said of Hayward, his former star at Butler.
James scored 29 points — 13 in the fourth quarter — in his most extensive action in three weeks because of a sprained left ankle. The superstar also fed Kevin Love for a critical three-pointer with 46.3 seconds left to put the Cavaliers up 102-98.
Irving, who asked to be traded this summer after six seasons in Cleveland, missed a three-pointer at the horn.
Jaylen Brown scored 25 and Irving had 22 points and 10 assists for the Celtics, who overcame an 18-point deficit and led with 2:04 left.
OAKLAND, Calif. – Kevin Durant’s baseline jumper swished through the net an instant too late, and the Houston Rockets rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Golden State 122-121 on the night the Warriors received their championship rings.
The Warriors had one last chance with 10.6 seconds left and Durant came up with the ball after Stephen Curry had missed. Durant and the Warriors thought they had won when the two remaining officials — the third got hurt in the fourth quarter — reviewed the video and ruled Durant’s shot was after the buzzer.
James Harden, who scored 27 points for Houston, made a layup before teammate P.J. Tucker added two free throws with 44.1 seconds left to close out scoring.
• Chicago power forward Nikola Mirotic was punched in the face by teammate Bobby Portis during a practice altercation.
Mirotic suffered a concussion and what team officials called “maxillary fractures,” adding “surgery is likely required.”