They are also relying on young players and unproven long-range shooters — a big deal for a team that jacked more triples than everyone but Houston and Cleveland. Opponents will dare Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris, Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and svelte Marcus Smart, and Stevens will likely encourage them to let fly — at least from the corners, where Brown quietly drilled 44 percent.
But most first- and second-year players are net negatives. Chemistry takes time. Boston may be a little schizophrenic between and within games. There will be extended stretches when it clicks — when Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Al Horford ping the ball around, the cuts and handoffs are zippy, and open 3s find bottom.
Field goal, Panthers. Graham Gano matches Elliott with a 39-yarder, and the game is tied 3-3. Jordan Hicks had the big stop on third down.
Field goal, Eagles. After the fumble, the Eagles’ defense forces a three-and-out. Wentz then finds Marcus Johnson for 16 yards, and the Birds are into Panthers territory. Jake Elliott comes in to kick a 50-yard field goal and the Eagles lead 3-0 with 6:57 left in the first quarter.
Philadelphia’s first drive does not end well. Wentz is sacked at the Carolina 40-yard line by Julius Peppers. He fumbles and Carolina recovers.
“It’s a dream come true,” Fertitta said. “This is my building and my team. And it’s kinda fun.”
Fertitta, 60, who became a billionaire as the owner of Landry’s, Inc., a restaurant and entertainment company, and the Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels, sat down with ESPN after his introductory news conference Tuesday to explain his vision for the Rockets.