Heat hold off Bulls in opener

AP

They got their rings before the game, then a challenge as it was winding down.

The Miami Heat responded to both.

Shane Battier went 4-for-4 from 3-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, 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.”

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.

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 got within eight points in the final minutes.

But Battier’s right-corner 3 — 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. Ray Allen and Norris Cole each scored 11 for the Heat.

Rose shot 4-for-15 for the Bulls.

“I think we had a lot to do with it,” Allen said.

Said Rose: “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 plenty interesting down the stretch.

A layup by Butler with 5:34 left got the Bulls within 15, and after he missed the ensuing free throw, the rebound made its way to Kirk Hinrich — who made a 3-pointer that cut Miami’s lead to 91-79.

Hinrich fouled out on the ensuing Miami possession. Wade scored seconds later, the Heat followed that with a stop, and James simply overpowered Luol Deng in the post on the next trip to restore the 16-point lead. Pacers 97, Magic 87

In Indianapolis, Paul George scored 24 points, and Roy Hibbert added 16 rebounds and seven blocks to lead Indiana.

George’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter gave the Pacers a 69-64 lead and sparked the decisive 17-4 run to open the fourth.

Hibbert nearly matched his career-high for rebounds (17) in the first half. He had eight points but left the game midway through the fourth quarter after injuring his knee in a spill underneath his own basket. Team officials said it was not serious and he could have returned.

Victor Oladipo, the ex-Hoosiers star and No. 2 overall draft pick, had 12 points and three turnovers for the Magic. Lakers 116, Clippers 103

In Los Angeles, Xavier Henry scored a career-high 22 points, Jordan Farmar added 16, and five Lakers reserves surged past the Clippers in the fourth quarter.

With Kobe Bryant watching in street clothes 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.

Henry, the former first-round draft pick who burned out in Memphis and New Orleans, scored 12 points in the fourth quarter while leading a decisive 28-8 run.

Blake Griffin scored 19 points and Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists for the Clippers, who beat the Lakers four times last season on the way to their first Pacific Division title.