Bulls hold on to beat Cavs in opener
28 Oct 2015 - 9:25
Los Angeles: The C?hicago Bulls upstaged Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 97-95 on Tuesday in a thrilling opening night duel as the 2015-2016 NBA season got under way.
With President Barack Obama among a delighted Chicago crowd, Derrick Rose finished with 18 points and five assists as four of the Bulls' five starters finished in double figures.
"Who knows how good this team can be?" said Bulls guard Rose.
The only Chicago starter that didn't shoot in double figures was Pau Gasol but the Spaniard made his presence known with six blocks including a key denial of Cavaliers talisman James with three seconds left that helped secure the victory.
Cleveland had another chance to tie the score as time expired but guard Jimmy Butler broke up a Cavs' inbound pass to James, ending the game between the two top rated clubs in the NBA's Eastern Conference.
Nikola Mirotic had a 19 points, Butler delivered 17 points while Tony Snell and E'Twaun Moore each scored 11 for the Bulls, who gave their new head coach Fred Hoiberg his first NBA win.
James tallied a game-high 25 points and 10 rebounds, Mo Williams finished with 19 points and Kevin Love scored 18 for the Cavaliers who lost in the NBA Finals in six games last season to the Golden State Warriors.
In the other early game Tuesday, the Detroit Pistons dumped the Atlanta Hawks 106-94. The Warriors began their title defence by hosting the New Orleans Pelicans in the night contest.
There was a moment of silence before the games in honour of Flip Saunders. The Minnesota Timberwolves coach and team president passed away on Sunday after battling cancer.
James said after the game that he struggled with his conditioning during the first and third quarters. He sat out for most of the past two weeks of preseason after receiving an anti-inflammatory injection for his back.
He credited Gasol for getting the better of him on the clutch block.