The roar went up with 3:40 left in the first quarter of the Cavaliers' 98-94 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the season opener before a rocking-and-rolling sellout crowd on Wednesday night at The Q.

For the first time since May 21, 2012, former All-Star center Andrew Bynum was checking into an NBA game. He wound up playing just 7:34, finishing with three points, three rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots, a turnover and a foul, making one of five shots and the only free throw he attempted.

"Kind of like riding a bike,'' Bynum said. "Outside of offense, I think I played pretty well for playing for the first time in about a year and half. The timing [on offense] was bad, but defensively it's not about timing, it's just about effort. I think I went out there and played hard.''

Bynum's performance was overshadowed by those of several teammates, including Kyrie Irving, who finished with 15 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four clutch free throws in the last 13.7 seconds; Anderson Varejao, who had 11 points, eight rebounds and a 14-footer with 28.1 seconds left gave the Cavs the lead for good and Tristan Thompson, who led the Cavs with 18 points and nine rebounds.

But Bynum's presence was the biggest story of the night -- even bigger than holding on for a win over the highly regarded Nets. When coach Mike Brown took Bynum out early in the second quarter, he followed Bynum to the end of the bench and gave him a friendly, congratulatory pat, as did several teammates.

"He looked good,'' Brown said. "We're a different team when he's out there.''

Missing all of last season with knee problems after he was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Philadelphia 76ers, the 7-foot, seven-year veteran who turned 26 on Sunday was a gift to the Cavs and their long suffering fans. No one knew what to expect when he was signed to an incentive-laden two-year, $24 million contract. The deal includes a guaranteed $6 million this season and a team option for the second.