With the first week of the 2013-2014 NBA season in the books, let’s take a look back at how some of the biggest preseason storylines played out in the first week, as well as a look at some surprising starts.

Opening Night, though only having three match-ups, gave us an early look at some teams whose offseason maneuverings had people wondering how’d they look.

The Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls squared off in South Beach, as this matchup of the Eastern Conference favorites had storylines galore. But the one that everyone was anticipating was the long awaited return of Derrick Rose.

Here, we got our first regular season glimpse of D-Rose, who was back after sitting out all of last season while recovering from ACL surgery. While Rose killed it in the preseason, this was a different scenario with the Bulls facing the reigning champs kicking off their title defense on their home court.

Rose looked good physically, but his decision-making and timing were a little off. Rose was eager to instigate action for the Bulls on offense, which led to some ill-advised ball handling and shot selection as he finished the night 4-15 from the floor with five turnovers.

The Heat jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half and never really looked back, Bulls mounted a small comeback in the fourth quarter but ran out of time to complete their charge.

Rose was then back in action on Halloween night against the New York Knicks, as the Bulls opened their home campaign. The Bulls led by five at the half, and took control in the third quarter to take a 10-point lead into the final period.

That is where things went haywire for the Bulls on offense. They only had amassed nine fourth quarter points and were lucky to find themselves only down by one with six seconds left in the game. That is when Derrick Rose showed us his first true flash of brilliance on the young season.

Rose was able to hit a baseline runner with 5.7 seconds left to give the Bulls the lead for good. Though he was 7-23 from the field for the game, he saved his best shot for last as the Bulls eked out the victory.

Now back to Opening Night, as we got to see the “new look” Lakers team face their cross town cross-hallway rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers.

The questions surrounding the Lakers this season center around their loss at center. The departure of Dwight Howard in free agency and the recovery of Kobe Bryant from his achilles tendon surgery are storylines that will follow the purple-and-gold for the rest of the season.

The Clippers are considered among the Western Conference title favorites, while the Lakers are expected to struggle as long as Kobe remains inactive. Somebody forgot to mention these expectations to these teams before the game.

The Lakers came out on fire and shot 48 percent on 29 attempts from three-point range for the game. The outside shooting, along with the dominance of Pau Gasol down low, allowed the Lakers to stave off the Clippers and show that LA is still a Laker town... for now.

Speaking of Dwight Howard, the star center shined in his debut for the Houston Rockets, collecting 26 rebounds (one fewer than his career mark) in the Rockets win over the Charlotte Bobcats.

A lot of the talk surrounding the Rockets heading into the season focused on the viability of playing Omer Asik and Howard together for long stretches. In the opener, the duo combined for 40 rebounds and protected the rim effectively by limiting Charlotte’s free agent signee Al Jefferson to 13 points on 6-19 shooting.

While defensively Houston’s new Twin Towers were a shot in the arm, offensively the spacing was awkward. This is a combo that should improve when they get a few more games under their belt. Harden has also been effective, if a bit banged up, through the first three games of the season. The Rockets are 3-0 heading into next week's big matchup against the Clippers.

In week of surprise starts, the one that demands attention is the quick start of rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams. MCW came out of the gate absolutely on fire against the Heat, and came within a steal of putting up a triple-double in his first NBA game.

Granted, the Heat were without Dwayne Wade and they generally have trouble with long, athletic point guards. But take a look at this: MCW came within one steal and three rebounds of a QUADRUPLE-DOUBLE. It was an amazing performance.

In the Sixers’ next contest against the Washington Wizards, MCW wasn't nearly as productive, going for 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. But in Philadelphia’s last game of the week, MCW was back on with 26 points and 10 assists in Philly’s third consecutive win of the season.

Philly is already holding out their prized rookie Nerlens Noel as he recovers from surgery, and the thought around the league was that the Sixers might set new marks for futility. With a uncommonly deep draft coming up in 2014, it was thought that the Sixers might be the team with the most balls in the hopper during the draft lottery.

That still might be the case when it is all said and done, but watching Michael Carter-Williams play this year will make this year interesting for Philly fans.

Other News and Notes

  • Russell Westbrook returned to game action on Sunday night. Westbrook was initially expected to be out until mid-December after needing a scope of his knee during the second-to-last week of the preseason. Reports out of Oklahoma City said that Westbrook was recovering nicely, but nobody expected him to return this quickly.
  • Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson had a hot week. Klay went for 38 points, a career-high, in only 31 minutes in the Warriors season-opening win against the Lakers. Not to be outdone, Curry went for 38 points and nine assists (with 11 turnovers) against the Clippers in LA. It wasn't enough to overcome Chris Paul’s 42 points and 15 assists, and the Clippers took the game, 126-115. Thompson and Curry then shared the load, scoring 27 and 22 points respectively in a win over the Sacramento Kings. These guys are absolutely lighting it up.

By Blake Hamilton


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