The Detroit Pistons could hardly wait for their first shot at the Boston Celtics this season.
Obviously, their fans were anxious, too. There were 34,523 on hand Friday night at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich., and they enjoyed watching the Pistons defeat the Celtics, 128-105.
The Pistons spent the off-season pondering their semifinal-round playoff loss to the Celtics.
It was a fired-up Piston team that broke the game open in the second quarter Friday night, led by 16 points at halftime and by as many as 24 in the third quarter.
The Pistons trailed, 33-31, after one period, but Isiah Thomas scored 15 of his 17 points in the second quarter.
The Pistons are 5-1 at home this season and have won 16 of their last 17 games at the Silverdome. The Celtics, who were 20-21 away from Boston Garden last season, are 4-5 on the road.
"Isiah's concentration was on," Piston Coach Chuck Daly said. "When he's running our club like that, we're as good as any team in the league."
Larry Bird, still not fully recovered from injuries to both Achilles' tendons, and Kevin McHale, in only his second start of the season, provided most of the Boston offense with 27 and 20 points, respectively.
Bird, whose consecutive free-throw string ended at 60 when he missed his second attempt of the game, praised the Pistons.
"I thought they just beat us in every area and phase of the game," he said. "They took advantage of us in the second quarter. They had a good spurt. We started throwing the ball away and we were fighting from 15, 16 back all night."
The Celtics played without guard Danny Ainge, who was sent home with an injured left rotator cuff.
Denver 105, Chicago 89--For many years, the Nuggets have been synonymous with offense. In this game at Denver, the Nuggets played solid defense.
With Lafayette Lever and T. R. Dunn taking turns harassing Michael Jordan, the Nuggets handed the Bulls only their second loss in 11 road games.
The fine defensive effort, by a team that has been allowing an average of 113 points a game, enabled the Nuggets to improve to 10-5, best in the Midwest Division.
Jordan finished with 23 points, which was 10 below his league-leading average.
Cleveland 108, Indiana 90--On a night when most road teams were having a difficult time, the Cavaliers posted an impressive win at Indianapolis.
Second-year center Brad Daugherty scored 16 of his 28 points in the third quarter to lead the Cavaliers.
When Steve Stipanovich and Vern Fleming made baskets to open the second half, the Pacers led by 12 points. By the time Daugherty ended his spree, the Cavaliers were ahead, 79-68.
The Cavaliers made 55.6% of their shots, as Phil Hubbard hit 10 of 16 and Daugherty 12 of 16.
Philadelphia 118, Seattle 105--The SuperSonics were playing their fifth road game in eight nights but they had plenty of fire at Philadelphia, building an 18-point lead in the second quarter.
Then, Charles Barkley took charge. Barkley brought the 76ers back into the game in the third quarter and broke it open in the fourth.
Barkley scored 36 points, making 13 of 16 shots, and got 13 rebounds. He had help from Maurice Cheeks, who had 23 points, 8 rebounds and 11 assists.
Atlanta 139, New Jersey 102--This was a game at Atlanta in which the Hawks did not need their top scorer, Dominique Wilkins. With Wilkins resting his sore foot, the Hawks romped, leaving the Nets with an 0-7 road record.
John Battle came off the bench to score 27 points, tying his career high. Battle, who played 26 minutes, scored 16 points in the second quarter to help build a 72-53 lead.
The one-sided game enabled the Nets to give some playing time to newly signed guard Johnny Moore, who played 10 minutes. He missed his only shot and had one assist.
Dallas 116, Golden State 95--Mark Aguirre scored 6 of his 28 points in a 12-0 spurt in the third quarter at Dallas that enabled the Mavericks to score their easiest victory of the season.
The Warriors, with the league's worst record, are 0-8 on the road.
Dallas led, 78-71, with 5:30 left in the third quarter. Aguirre scored twice inside, then sank a 20-foot jumper, and Roy Tarpley added five more points in the 12-point burst that made it 90-71.
The Mavericks had a 53-33 advantage in rebounds. Joe Barry Carroll led the Warriors with 25 points but had only 6 rebounds.
Utah 104, New York 92--Thurl Bailey scored a career-high 31 points at Salt Lake City to help the Jazz end a two-game losing streak.
The Jazz, with Bailey and Karl Malone sparking the attack, jumped to a 33-18 lead after one quarter. The Knicks rallied to pull within four at halftime, then tied the score at 73-73 early in the fourth quarter. But Bailey triggered a 12-3 spurt that gave Utah the win.