The Miami Heat got their NBA championship rings, watched a video tribute to last season’s record-setting campaign and then went out and showed why they are still the team to beat.
Playing host to the Chicago Bulls in one of three games that launched the 2013-14 National Basketball Association season, Miami went on a wild 31-5 run that spanned the opening two quarters en route to a 107-95 victory.
The win spoiled Derrick Rose’s long-awaited return to the Bulls line-up as the NBA’s 2011 Most Valuable Player was playing his first game since suffering a knee injury in April last year.
The two-time reigning champion Heat got off to a slow start following a lengthy pre-game ceremony to recognise last season’s title run but found their groove late in the first quarter and then held off a late charge by the Bulls.
Showcasing their well-rounded roster on a night when LeBron James and Dwyane Wade went a combined 10-of-23 from the field, Miami had seven players reach double-digit scoring, including three off the bench.
Carlos Boozer carried the load for the Bulls with a game-high 31 points while Rose, who received a “welcome back” tweet from President Barack Obama before the game, was held to 12 points on four-of-14 shooting.
Miami, coming off a remarkable season that included a 27-game winning streak, a franchise-best 66-16 record and a playoff run that was capped by a victory over the San Antonio Spurs in the decisive seventh game of the NBA Finals, built a 25-point lead that was cut down to nine with 1:40 to play.
But Shane Battier, who came off the bench and landed all four of his three-point attempts, drained one from beyond the arc with 1:33 remaining as the Heat held on for the win.
In other opening-day action, Paul George scored a game-high 24 points and Roy Hibbert grabbed 16 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers earned a hard-fought 97-87 victory over the visiting Orlando Magic.
The Pacers, who were one win shy of reaching last season’s NBA Finals, had their hands full versus an Orlando team that had the NBA’s worst record last season.
The Los Angeles Lakers, despite playing without the injured Kobe Bryant, stunned the more fancied Los Angeles Clippers 116-103 at Staples Center after producing a sizzling display late in the night’s final game.
Seven Lakers players reached double-digits in scoring, five of them from the bench, as the team poured in 14-of-29 three-pointers, outscoring their opponents 41-24 in the fourth period.
Backup guard Xavier Henry led the way with a game-high 22 points on eight-of-13 shooting while Jordan Farmar, also off the bench, weighed in with 16 points. Spanish centre Pau Gasol contributed 15.