Basketball

LeBron who? Cavs top Celtics

For one night, losing LeBron didn't hurt so bad.

After nearly four months of emptiness, anger and worry, the Cleveland Cavaliers returned to the floor and realized they can still win.

Maybe they’re going to be OK after all.

Playing their first game in seven years without LeBron James, the Cavaliers stunned the Boston Celtics, 95-87, in their season opener Wednesday night in Cleveland, a win that gave heartbroken Cavs fans reason to believe that life will be fine minus the two-time MVP.

“This was for the city,” forward Antawn Jamison said. “It was for the fans to let them know the Cavs will survive and this is a place where you can still watch good basketball. And most of all, you can watch a team that wins.”

J.J. Hickson scored 21 points, Daniel Gibson added 16 — all in the second half — and the Cavaliers made several big, clutch plays in the closing minutes to hold off the Celtics, who defeated James and the Miami Heat, 88-80, on Tuesday night.

Rajon Rondo scored 18, Paul Pierce 13 and Ray Allen 12 for Boston, which led by 11 points in the third quarter but shot only 6 of 16 and was outscored 27-14 in the fourth.

“We took them a little bit too lightly,” Boston’s Shaquille O’Neal said.

SLAM DUNKS

James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh got their first win with Miami, 97-87 over Philadelphia. The Wizards’ Gilbert Arenas will miss at least the first two regular-season games with a strained tendon in his right ankle. Boston’s win over Miami drew the most viewers for an NBA regular-season game in cable television history.

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