To hear the Charlotte Hornets tell it, they were just as surprised as anybody else to come up with one of the most prolific defensive efforts in club history last night.
Eddie Jones had a franchise-record nine steals, helping the Hornets force a club-record 32 turnovers and convert them into 33 points on the way to a 98-89 victory over the Indiana Pacers in Charlotte.
"It was nothing new. We've been doing the same things, but tonight we were just on cue," said Bobby Phills, who added three steals as the Hornets secured their first 2-0 start in the club's 12 seasons. "To be able to cause a veteran team, a good team such as Indiana, to turn the ball over the way they did, that's the perfect scenario. That's utopia right there."
Indiana Coach Larry Bird offered a different perspective.
"It's disappointing how we played," he said. "Charlotte is one of the best teams in the East, and we had a chance to make a statement early in the season."
Instead, it was Jones who made the statement, adding 22 points and keying a 16-6 run in the first quarter that put the Hornets ahead to stay. Jones had six points and two steals in the surge, when Charlotte forced six turnovers and converted them into 10 points for a 22-14 lead.
"Eddie Jones was all over the court," Bird said. "He's got quickness and makes a lot of things happen for them. He's a great player."
Jones's theft total, which represented a career high for one of the NBA's best defenders, helped the Hornets finish with 20 steals, their second-highest total ever. Rookie Baron Davis added four.
"Our athleticism showed up. We're a little bit younger than they are," Jones said. "I was really getting in the passing lanes. I was just excited."
* BUCKS 119, HAWKS 109: Ray Allen scored 31 points, Sam Cassell added 24 and Milwaukee spoiled Atlanta's first game at Philips Arena.
"When we get on the court, we run on all four cylinders," Allen said. "We're definitely off to a great start [2-0]. Eighty games left."
* SUNS 84, 76ERS 80: Penny Hardaway scored 18 points in his Phoenix debut and the Suns recovered from an early fourth-quarter collapse to win their home opener. Phoenix won despite 26 turnovers, thanks largely to 4-for-20 shooting by Allen Iverson.
* SPURS 104, WARRIORS 81: David Robinson scored 19 points and Tim Duncan grabbed 14 rebounds to lead San Antonio at home.
"I'm starting to feel good again," Robinson said. "My back body is starting to bounce around again. My back feels fine."
* JAZZ 98, ROCKETS 82: Karl Malone scored 21 points to close in on a career milestone and John Stockton added 18 points and seven assists for Utah against visiting Houston. Malone needs 19 points to become the fourth player in NBA history (after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan) to reach 29,000.
* SONICS 106, MAVERICKS 96: Vin Baker and Vernon Maxwell each scored 22 points as Seattle won its home opener. Cedric Ceballos scored 34 points for Dallas.
* RAPTORS 97, HEAT 86: Doug Christie had 28 points, including six three-pointers, to help host Toronto snap an eight-game losing streak against Miami.
CAPTION: Miami's Alonzo Mourning (18 points, 5 blocks) tries to stop dunk by Kevin Willis (42). The Raptors snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Heat.