It was an emotional Opening Night of the 2013-14 regular season in which the Miami Heat finally received their 2013 NBA Championship rings and their newest banner was (partially) raised at the AmericanAirlines Arena. A spectacular presentation unfolded right on the main floor as scenes from their title run were displayed, along with fireworks and a brand new player intro video was also introduced.
Then the actual basketball game started.
The Heat raced out to a big lead with a 17-0 run in the second quarter, at one time leading by 25 points in the second half, before letting the Bulls second unit cut the deficit to single digits before the Heat finally put it away in the closing minutes.
LeBron James led the Heat with just 17 points as the scoring load was spread through both the starters and reserves with 7 of the 9 players that entered the game scoring in double-digits. Chris Bosh had an efficient night with 16 points but only six rebounds and was not exactly a force on the defensive end. Dwyane Wade struggled throughout the game with sloppy play, careless ball handling and poor shooting. He made a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left in the game to close with 13 points.
"We were very careless in the second half," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra admitted. "Our guys own that. We did not finish it offensively the way we're capable of. (We were) sloppy. We lost our concentration just for a second and with a team like that, they'll climb right back into the game. However, from the standpoint of moving the ball, and our Big 3...no one scoring over 17 points, and them not even caring about that. It was really more just about a team attack, the ball would find the open player, and guys were sharing the wealth. That's really the only way you can beat a defense like that."
At times, the Heat's second unit outplayed the starters with Shane Battier and Ray Allen highly accurate from long range and with Norris Cole having a solid, all-around game with 11 points, 3 assists and 7 rebounds.
"That's our job as bench players, to bring a spark," Cole said. "Every night there's going to be something different. It may not be points, it may just be activity. There's going to be plenty of nights where the Big 3 will carry us heavily so it's only right that a complete team effort is needed sometimes."
Derrick Rose had an off-night, to put it mildly, but the Heat had no answer for Carlos Boozer who had his way in the paint with several easy baskets. The Bulls as a team outscored the Heat in the paint 50 to 34 as well as in second chance points with 16 points to just 5 for the home team.
The Bulls only mustered 33 points in the first half but made the game interesting with 37 fourth quarter points to give a little drama to the festive night. The Heat were very careless in the second half with sloppy play and unforced turnovers but the Bulls didn't make them pay for it until the fourth quarter.
Unfortunately for the Bulls, time simply ran out on their comeback bid with the Heat making just enough plays down the stretch to seal the first win of the season. Cole hit a midrange jumper and fed Bosh inside for the easy basket after a quick timeout. Each member of the Big 3 scored in the closing moments, as did Battier with his fourth 3-pointer of the night (out of four attempts beyond the arc), to put away the pesky Bulls.
"It was a special moment for everybody in the organization because we know how difficult that was, and how harrowing that was last season," Spoelstra said. "So it was great to get actually get the win after that to cap off a very good night for the Miami Heat."