But again, the Bulls weren’t done, cutting the lead to 95-87 on a drive by Boozer with 2:47 left. They would get no closer, and Miami held on despite giving up 37 points in the final quarter.
Rose’s start was promising early, with two early drives for impressive scores. The Bulls led 15-10 when Rose checked out for the first time with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.
When he returned, the lead was gone for good. The Heat outscored the Bulls 13-3 in Rose’s first stint on the bench, turning a five-point lead into a five-point deficit, and by then the Heat were off and running.
Over a 4-minute stretch of the second quarter, everything changed.
Rose’s surgically repaired knee might be fine, but in the basketball vernacular, Cole broke the ankles of the 2011 NBA MVP — starting a run that turned what was a tight game into a romp. Cole faked out Rose on the dribble, causing the Bulls’ star to tumble over, and the Heat reserve connected on an 18-foot jumper that sent the Miami bench leaping from its seats.
That began the 17-0 run. The Bulls missed nine straight shots, Rose getting blocked by Bosh on one, and the Heat went to work. Miami shot 7 for 10 during the burst, which was capped by a driving layup by James with 4:23 left, and suddenly the Heat led 41-20.
It was a runaway, and became a grind-it-out win.
NOTES: Since the Heat entered the league, reigning NBA champions are 21-5 in their opening game of the ensuing season. ... The Heat visit the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Chicago’s next game is Thursday, its home opener against the New York Knicks. ... Going back to last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals, Miami has won five straight games over the Bulls. ... James is 31 points shy of 25,000 for his career, if including regular-season and playoff games. He would be the 28th player in NBA history to reach that milestone.