Heat receive rings, ruin Rose's return

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- Miami got its rings, and Chicago received its Rose.

Those were the headlines Tuesday night, when the Miami Heat received their NBA championship jewelry in a pregame ceremony and then defeated the Chicago Bulls 107-95 at AmericanAirlines Arena. Chicago guard Derrick Rose, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, returned to action and scored 12 points.

"You can't deny the emotions and the special moment it was for everyone in the organization," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the ring ceremony. "We know how harrowing (winning the title) was last season. So it was great to get the win after that and to cap off a very good night for the Miami Heat."

Miami's LeBron James, the reigning league MVP, had a fairly quiet night with a team-high 17 points to go with six rebounds and eight assists in the season opener for both teams.

The other big story was the comeback of Rose, who played his first real game in 553 days -- since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a 2012 playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Rose shot 4-for-15 against the Heat, and he looked rusty on defense.

"I worked hard for it," Rose said of his return. "I know my breakout game will come soon. I don't think I forced anything. I just didn't make shots."

Rose also had five turnovers and four assists in 34 minutes, but Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was pleased with his overall performance.

"There's going to be some rust, but I thought he played hard," he said. "(The physicality) is something he needs to get used to, but I thought he was strong throughout. He moved well to the open areas. He finished strong in the paint.

"I thought he missed some looks that normally he makes. When you miss open shots, you can't afford to let that frustrate you and try to do too much individually."

Heat point guard Mario Chalmers and backup Norris Cole shared the defensive assignment on Rose and fared well.

"We tried to corral him and keep bodies in front of him," Cole said. "That's all you can do and then contest his shot."

The Heat outscored the Bulls 37-18 in the second quarter to take control of the game. Miami led by as many as 25 points before Chicago cut the margin to eight with 2:46 left in the game. Jimmy Butler (20 points) then missed on a drive, and that was as close as the Bulls got.

Miami had seven players score in double figures. Chris Bosh had 16 points, Shane Battier scored 14, and Dwyane Wade and Chalmers added 13 apiece. Cole and Ray Allen each contributed 11 points.

The Heat bench -- comprised of Battier, Cole, Allen and Chris Andersen -- combined for 42 points on 16-of-25 shooting. The Bulls' bench finished with 26 points.

"We (reserves) are professionals, too," said Cole, who added seven rebounds in 21 minutes. "We think we're pretty good, too.

"Obviously, there are superstar guards out there, but we believe we can play, and we want to compete. That's our job, and we showed we are capable."

Spoelstra said Battier, who made five of six shots, including four of four 3-point attempts, is valuable for reasons beyond the box score.

"In huddles, at halftime, before games -- his voice is great, particularly in times of duress," Spoelstra said. "The four charges he tried to take -- I think he only got one -- but he sacrifices his body."

Chicago was led by forward Carlos Boozer, who had a game-high 31 points on 13-of-18 shooting. The rest of the Bulls were fairly quiet, including center Joaquin Noah, who started despite an injured groin. He was held to two points, although he grabbed 11 rebounds.

On the first possession of the game, Rose's dribble was stolen by Chalmers, who dished to Udonis Haslem for a dunk. After that, though, the Heat missed nine consecutive shots and trailed 9-2.

The Heat closed the first quarter with a 7-0 run to grab a 17-15 lead. Chicago forward Luol Deng ended the quarter with three fouls.

Butler picked up his third foul with 9:39 left in the first half, furthering handicapping the Bulls.

While both players sat out with foul trouble, the Heat put up a 17-0 second-quarter run. Miami finished the half with a 54-33 lead.

The Heat maintained their large lead through three quarters, going up 78-58. The last basket of the quarter was a Andersen dunk that was set up by a look-away bounce pass from James.

NOTES: The Heat are trying to become the first team to participate in four consecutive NBA Finals since the Boston Celtics did it 27 years ago. Miami is also trying to become the first team to win three straight NBA titles since the Los Angeles Lakers from 1999-2000 to 2001-02. ... Rose said his vertical leap has increased from 37 inches before his injury to 42. ... Tuesday was the 10th anniversary of James' NBA debut, when he scored 25 points and dished nine assists for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a loss to the Sacramento Kings. ... Next up for the Bulls is their home opener, Thursday against the New York Knicks. ... Next up for the Heat is a Wednesday game at Philadelphia.
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