The Bulls did their Bullsian thing and never quite went away until the final buzzer, even somehow getting it to an 8 point deficit at one point, but outside of that late run and a fast start it was all Miami Heat. Miami went crazy in a 37-point second quarter (which included a 17-0 run) and held a very comfortable lead until just into the 4th when they were up 25.
The theory that the Heat would be a bit sluggish following their ring ceremony held true for a bit, as they had only 2 points in the first 5:30. But once Derrick Rose exited after his first stint, the Heat started making their run. Even in that early stretch, Miami's swarming defense gave the Bulls all kinds of trouble, and induced some important foul calls that limited Jimmy Butler and Luol Deng's time. Some were poor whistles, but others were bad decisions, and the Bulls depth was exposed on opening night a bit. Tony Snell was even forced into action against LeBron James, a point where things got really ugly.
That period was a reminder of how grueling it can be to face the Heat, as they went 5-5 from three point range in the quarter and they were all seemingly wide-open looks. The Heat often looked better when they abandoned their more conventional lineup and put in Battier and Allen. Meanwhile, the Bulls bench put in a putrid first half: as a unit they were out
scored 24-4 against their Heat counterparts, and shot 1-14 from the field. Both Hinrich's and Dunleavy's defense was a step slow as well (Hinrich fouled out in 29 minutes). That neither LeBron or Wade really played that well, and the degree at which that didn't even matter...was just another way to feel crushed watching this game.
The positives were there, especially if you want to give some credit to that 4th quarter rally (I don't want to as much...). Carlos Boozer was amazing in that first half, with 19 of the team's 33 (yes, team only had 33) points, and finishing with 31 on 13-18 shooting. Jimmy Butler rebounded from that foul-plagued first half to have a pretty great 20 points on 12 shots, helped by going 2-4 from three, which was nice to see after Butler was not so hot from range in the preseason. He also had 5 steals, plays which in the 3rd quarter were pretty much the only thing the Bulls had going. Frustrated LeBron and Wade all night, which is a nice carryover from last season's playoffs.
And Derrick Rose. He returned! And he looked good. He had a couple spectacular layups and didn't show any diminished athleticism in his first regular season game in nearly 600 days. But I think his preseason may have spoiled us a bit, as it didn't feel like enough..Rose did not actually have a good game. Went to the line 4 times, shot 1-7 from three, both tremendous decreases from what he did in that monster preseason. The Heat did their usual blitzing of Rose and made things uncomfortable for him all night, at worst funneling him to crowded areas on the floor where he struggled to make plays. And to sum up his night in the worst way possible: he was outscored by Mario Chalmers.
As I don't want to shortchange anyone on the big pie of blame, Deng was bad and Noah looked bad. It's just a single game. And while not discouraging when thinking about the upcoming season, it was a pretty huge bummer to watch. Not every game will be against Miami, though that is the benchmark we're striving for.
We'll have a lot more tomorrow.