MIAMI – They got their rings before the game, then a challenge as it was winding down.
Miami Heat players responded to both.
Shane Battier went 4 for 4 from three-point range, including a critical one from the right corner with 1:33 remaining, and the Heat wasted most of what was a 25-point lead before holding off Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls 107-95 on Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.
“You never know what to expect when you’re trying to keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But you can’t deny the emotions and what a special moment it was for everybody in the organization because we know how difficult that was and how harrowing that was last season. So it was great to actually get the win after that to cap off a very good night for the Miami Heat.”
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LeBron James had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds for Miami, which got its 2013 NBA championship rings and raised the franchise’s third banner in a pregame ceremony. The Heat trailed 9-2 early, then outscored Chicago 52-24 over the remainder of the first half.
Point guard Rose finished with 12 points in 34 minutes in his first game since a serious knee injury in April 2012. Carlos Boozer had 31 points and seven rebounds for Chicago, which was down by eight points in the final minutes.
But Battier’s corner three — a staple for the Heat — snuffed out the comeback, and Miami wasn’t in trouble again.
“We’re not trying to pull close. There were a lot of corrections that we have to make,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It always comes back to the same thing — our defense and our rebounding. And if we could have taken better care of the ball early on, we would have been in position to win down the stretch.”
Chris Bosh scored 16 points, Battier finished with 14 and Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers each had 13 for Miami, which had seven players score in double figures. Ex-Sonic Ray Allen and Norris Cole each scored 11 for Miami.
Rose shot 4 for 15 for the Bulls and made a game-high five turnovers.
“I think we had a lot to do with it,” Allen said.
Rose said, “If anything, I’m disappointed in the loss. My performance, I can easily change that by making shots and keep down the turnovers.”
By halftime, Miami was rolling, up 54-33 — putting the game on pace for a 108-66 final, which would have exactly matched the score of the game in 2006 when Chicago came into Miami and spoiled the Heat franchise’s first ring night.
Not this time, though the Bulls made it interesting down the stretch.
Chicago reduced Miami’s lead to 95-87 on a drive by Boozer with 2:47 left. The Bulls would get no closer, and James raved about Miami’s balance.
“It’s a team game,” James said. “That’s what this team is put together for.”
Lakers beat Clippers
LOS ANGELES – Xavier Henry scored a career-high 22 points, Jordan Farmar added 16 and five Los Angeles Lakers reserves surged past the Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter for a 116-103 victory.
With injured superstar Kobe Bryant watching in street clothes behind Pau Gasol and Steve Nash on the Lakers’ bench, Jodie Meeks scored nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers stunned their Staples Center rivals in Clippers coach Doc Rivers’ debut.
The Lakers did it down the stretch with a lineup of backups — including three players who weren’t on the team last season. The Lakers improved to 42-24 in openers.
Blake Griffin scored 19 points and Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists for the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and 11 rebounds.
At Pacers 97, Magic 87
Paul George scored 24 points, and Roy Hibbert had eight points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks as Indiana beat Orlando.