PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Carter-Williams had Allen Iverson cheering from his suite and left LeBron James impressed.
Not a bad start for MCW.
It was an even better one for the Sixers.
Carter-Williams had a debut to remember, using 22 points, 12 assists, and nine steals to lead the Philadelphia 76ers past the Miami Heat 114-110 on Wednesday night.
The rookie out of Syracuse nearly upstaged Iverson on a night Philly feted his spectacular career.
"You see what he can bring on a big stage," 76ers rookie head coach Brett Brown said.
MCW was the MVP of the fourth quarter, picking up two more steals, harassing James in the lane, and sealing the win from the free-throw line.
Spencer Hawes scored 24 points and put the Sixers ahead for good with a 3-pointer, then a driving layup for a 109-108 lead with 2:01 left.
"Everything was clicking tonight," Carter-Williams said. "If we can consistently play together, then we can be a good team."
The guys in the locker room might be the only ones who think that.
As the NBA season tipped off, the over-under out of Las Vegas for total wins for the 76ers this year is 16.5, the lowest of any team in the league.
Against the two-time defending champion Heat, no one in Philly cared.
James missed five of six shots in the fourth, losing the ball on one drive down the middle, then blowing a 6-footer on the next possession. Shane Battier missed all seven 3-pointers in the game and the Heat missed 10 straight shots in the fourth -- after scoring a whopping 45 points in the third.
The Heat needed all those points to rally after the Sixers dominated from the opening tip. They made their first 11 shots and raced to leads of 19-0 and 26-4, putting the champs on their heels a night after they received their rings.
James had 25 points and 13 assists and Chris Bosh scored 22 for Miami.
Miami guard Dwyane Wade sat out to rest his sore knees. Coach Erik Spoelstra says he wanted to give Wade an extra day to recover with the Heat playing in consecutive nights. Wade scored 13 points for the Heat in their 107-95 win over Chicago on Tuesday.
Carter-Williams also hit four 3-pointers, had seven rebounds and his nine steals set an NBA first-game record.
"I couldn't think of a better way to start your NBA career," James said.
For most of the game, the Sixers played more like the team in the hunt for the championship, not one in full blown rebuilding mode. Iverson, Charles Barkley, Julius Erving and Moses Malone were among the former Sixers on hand for opening night.
The Heat surely could have used Wade. Wade, though, had walked into locker room both knees wrapped in ice and an understanding it was too early in the season to push himself. He said it was "just being smart."
"It was not pre-planned, it was something our trainers and coaches came to me with," Wade said. "It's early in the season, it's just a precaution."
James said Wade could take all the time he needed.
"If he needs to take the second game of the season, the 30th game, 50th game, 80th game, that's the way it is," James said.
After all, the Heat were a double-digit favourite to rout the Sixers, and expected to have little trouble against one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Not so fast.
Evan Turner scored 26 points and the Sixers dominated only hours after Iverson announced his retirement, ending a 14-year career.
Carter-Williams had a steal and dunk to open the game, Turner dunked over James, and Hawes tossed in a layup for a stunning 19-0 run to open the game. James finally banked in a shot with 7:07 left in the first to end Miami's scoring drought.
The Sixers still led 29-11 even with a lineup that included Tony Wroten, Lavoy Allen and Daniel Orton on the court.
"We've got a lot of pride, the guys that have been here and done it," Hawes said.
The Heat, though, became the Heat and used a 14-0 run in the second quarter to pull to 51-49 at halftime.
James hit a 3 that made it a one-point game, and Udonis Haslem's inside layup gave the Heat their first lead of the game, 60-59. Ray Allen hit all four 3-pointers in the quarter, James made three and the Heat shot a sizzling 10 of 13 from 3-point range in the third. They finished 16 of 22 (73 per cent) from the floor overall and stretched the lead to 94-85.
"We're a comfortable team, we always feel like we can win a game," James said.
Just not this one.