WASHINGTON – Kris Humphries was booed even before the start of the game between his New Jersey Nets and the Washington Wizards, presumably because of his much-hyped — and short-lived marriage to reality TV star Kim Kardashian.
Once the basketball was in the air Monday night, Humphries really gave the Wizards and their fans reason to be angry, finishing with 21 points and 16 rebounds to help New Jersey erase a 21-point deficit and come all the way back to beat Washington 90-84 in the season opener for both teams.
In a duel of two top point guards, New Jersey's Deron Williams had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, getting the better of Washington's John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft.
Wall had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but he only shot 3 for 13. He had the ball in his hands with Washington down only by three in the final minute, but turned it over.
Backup shooting guard Nick Young led Washington with 16 points in just 18 minutes. He missed a large part of the second half after jamming his left foot, but returned.
Andray Blatche opened a pregame speech to the Wizards' home crowd by saying, "This is your captain, Andray Blatche." He wound up with 11 points on 5-of-13 shooting and was called for a technical foul, to boot.
Apparently, Wizards fans are keeping up with the Kardashians. They greeted Humphries with loud jeers during the introductions of the starting lineups, then got on his case whenever he touched the ball. The booing reached a crescendo when Humphries was about to attempt a free throw in the first quarter, then turned to cheers when his shot clanged off the front of the rim. Fans also applauded and shouted approval when Humphries was whistled for fouls.
Humphries and Kardashian split up 72 days after their wedding. He re-signed with the Nets last week and was in the team's starting five Monday, when coach Avery Johnson decided to drop Shelden Williams.
The Wizards (who went 23-59) and Nets (24-58) were two of the six worst teams in the NBA last season, and neither made any truly significant additions. Both went 0-2 during the abbreviated, post-lockout exhibition schedule.
So perhaps it was little surprise that both went through some rather rough stretches Monday, unable to execute properly at either end of the floor.
First it was New Jersey that struggled, falling behind 26-13 in the first quarter and 38-17 in the second, after Young poured in 12 points in a span of about six minutes on 4-for-5 shooting. The Nets shot only 35 percent in the first half, including 14 percent on 3-point attempts, 2 for 14.
But New Jersey managed to start chipping away, thanks in large part to a 16-2 run, and by halftime, Washington's lead was down to 45-37.
In the second half, though, it was Washington's turn to struggle.
When Humphries hit an 18-foot jumper four minutes into the second half, the game was tied at 53. About halfway through the third quarter, Deron Williams' 3-pointer made it 58-57, the Nets' first lead of the evening.
A couple of dunks by Humphries helped New Jersey push their edge to 66-63, before Washington woke up. When Roger Mason made a 23-foot jumper about 1½ minutes into the fourth quarter, it capped an 11-0 spurt for the Wizards, giving the hosts a 74-66 lead.
But the Nets scored the next nine points, capped by Damion James' layup with about 5½ minutes remaining, and were on their way.
Notes: According to the Nets, their collection of guys named Williams make New Jersey the first team in NBA history to have four players with the same last name on a regular-season roster together: Deron, Jordan, Shawne and Shelden. ... Jordan Williams and Brook Lopez were inactive for the Nets; first-round draft pick Jan Vesely and Hamady Ndiaye were inactive for the Wizards. ... The Nets start the season with a stretch of four games in five days — and six games in eight days. "As a coach, we can't have that as an excuse," Johnson said. ... Johnson was asked about Tuesday night's game against the visiting Atlanta Hawks being his team's last home openener before the move to Brooklyn. "We're going to have a lot of situations like that this year. That game is going to be 'the last home opener' — and the next home game is going to be 'the last second home game.' It's going to go on and on," Johnson said. "It's all going to be a countdown." ... Washington's second game is at Atlanta on Wednesday.