CLEVELAND -- Tristan Thompson's 18 points led six double-figure scorers for the Cavaliers as Cleveland defeated the Brooklyn Nets 98-94 in Wednesday's season opener for both teams.
All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was in a funk offensively for most of the game. However, he still finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and a team-high nine assists. He shot just 4-of-16 from the field.
Irving's biggest assist came while falling to the court with 28.1 seconds left. He found Cavs center Anderson Varejao, who dropped in a 14-foot jumper for a two-point edge, 93-91. The Cavs never trailed thereafter.
Nets center Brook Lopez had a game-high 21 points, five rebounds and three blocks.
Forward Paul Pierce contributed 17 points, while Jason Terry each added 14 points for the Brooklyn.
Pierce missed a 20-footer with 15.8 seconds left. Irving grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He deposited both free throws for a 95-91 advantage.
Thompson pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, while Varejao added eight for the Cavs, who won the battle of the boards, 48-37.
Irving made two more free throws with 5.9 seconds remaining for a six-point bulge, 97-91.
Guard Jarrett Jack had 12 points, Varejao and Dion Waiters contributed 11 points each and C.J. Miles added 10 points.
Guard Joe Johnson had 13 points and five rebounds for the Nets.
The Cavs extended their lead to nine points, 79-70, after three quarters. Irving had seven points in the third quarter to help the Cavs outscore the Nets 30-22.
Thompson, who transformed into a right-handed shooter in the offseason, had eight of his 18 points in the third quarter.
The 7-foot Lopez had 19 points, five rebounds and three blocks through three quarters.
Point guard Deron Williams had seven points and nine assists for Brooklyn.
The Cavs assumed a one-point edge at halftime, 49-48, on Irving's driving layup. It was his lone field goal of the first half.
The Cavs' starting backcourt of Irving and Waiters struggled in the first half, shooting a combined 3-of-13 for six points. Luckily for the Cavs, their backups were outstanding. Jack (12 points, 2 assists) and Miles (10 points) shot a combined 7-of-11 in the first half.
The Cavs got a huge lift from Andrew Bynum in the first half. He entered the game with 3:40 left in the first quarter to a standing ovation.
Bynum played eight first-half minutes and didn't return. He was active with three points, three rebounds, two assists and one block. He was 1-of-5 from the field.
It was Bynum's first NBA game since May 21, 2012, with the Los Angeles Lakers.
"He wants to play," Cavs coach Mike Brown said. "He's anxious. ... He hasn't played in over a year. He has a lot of upside and a lot of room to grow. I'm not placing any expectations on him."
The 7-foot, 294-pounder missed the entire preseason. He warmed up before the game and the Cavs decided to activate him.
"We have all felt as a group it's OK for him to play," Brown said. "This is another step in the process."
Bynum has been going through physical workouts on the court with Cavs assistant coach Vitaly Potapenko.
The Cavs led after the first quarter, 27-26. Irving got in foul trouble and was replaced by Jack, who fired in 10 points.
Forward Paul Pierce scored the first six points for the Nets, but didn't score again in the first half.
Lopez had 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks in the first half for Brooklyn.
NOTES: Brooklyn assistant coach Joe Prunty, who finished last season as a Cavs assistant, served as the Nets' interim head coach Wednesday. Nets coach Jason Kidd is serving a two-game suspension issued by the NBA for driving while impaired. ... Nets F Andrei Kirilenko, bothered by a stiff neck, was inactive. ... The Cavs are the second-youngest team in the NBA. They average 24 years, 156 days. ... Cavs C Tyler Zeller was available to play less than three weeks after he was rushed to the hospital to undergo an appendectomy. ... The Nets have six players on their roster who have been All-Stars: Kevin Garnett, Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Brook Lopez, Pierce and Williams. ... SF Earl Clark, a free agent acquisition, made his first start with the Cavs, winning a battle with Alonzo Gee for the job. Coach Mike Brown likes Clark's 6-10 frame and his ability to defend.