MIAMI -- The magic is in the work.
That's a phrase Tom Thibodeau favors. And as the Bulls embarked on the 48th season in franchise history Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena, they received a sobering lesson of its veracity.
The Heat's 107-95 dissection of the Bulls on their championship ring and banner-raising ceremony night reminded all that magic doesn't exist merely in Derrick Rose playing his first regular-season game in 18 months. Or in talk from several players, including Rose, that this Bulls squad represents their best championship chance.
Or even in the Bulls finally debuting their regular lineup of Rose, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah after Noah overcame his nagging groin injury.
Work remains. In fact, following a disjointed performance at both ends, the gap between the two-time defending champion Heat and the Bulls -- at least for one night -- seemed as extended as Rose's absence from regular-season play.
Facing consistent trapping, Rose finished with 12 points on 4-for-15 shooting with five turnovers in 34 minutes. He attempted just four free throws and missed 6 of 7 3-pointers, in sharp contrast to his preseason performance.
"I don't think it was rust," Rose said. "It was just me missing shots. I've had worse shooting nights than this. If anything, I'm going to have amnesia about it and we play in two days."
Mario Chalmers stripped Rose cleanly from behind on the game's first possession, leading to a Udonis Haslem dunk. That foreshadowed the widespread offensive struggles to come.
The Bulls endured two scoreless stretches in the first half totaling 10 minutes, 16 seconds, including one that produced a 17-0 Heat run. Rose sat on the bench for the first, which lasted 5:52, revealing the Bulls' lack of a secondary shot creator.
"I think everyone in the league is just going to try double-teaming me now," Rose said.
"They did a good job of trapping Derrick, getting the ball out of his hands," Noah said. "But if they put two on the ball like that, we have to make them pay. It's on all of us."
Mike Dunleavy missed all five first-half shots and surprisingly was replaced by rookie Tony Snell before awakening with 10 second-half points. Also in the second half, Noah missed a dunk. Then he missed another.
The Bulls shot 42.2 percent with 18 turnovers. Only Boozer and Butler played immune to it all. Boozer scored a team-high 31 points, while Butler contributed 20.
Foul trouble didn't help. Deng drew his third on a charge with 4.5 seconds left in the first quarter and sat the entire second. Early in the second, Butler followed suit with his third foul at the 9:39 mark. Deng then followed with his fourth on another charge just 4:39 into the second half.
Asked about the foul calls, Thibodeau paused.
"Next question," he said.
Defensive breakdowns allowed the Heat to knock down 11 of 20 3-pointers, shoot 51.4 percent overall and enjoy a 42-26 edge in bench scoring.
The Bulls mounted a late rally, pulling within eight before Shane Battier buried a 3-pointer. Rose replaced Kirk Hinrich down the stretch after Hinrich, wearing a protective sleeve over his injured right shoulder, fouled out.
"We have a whole season to make a statement," Rose said. "If it was just a one-game season, that's something we would be worried about. For us it's about building every game. We know that we have a special team. We know that we work hard. It's about us jelling and getting our chemistry."
It's worth repeating: Work remains. This is a serious-minded group, so that part will get done. Ultimately, will it be enough?
"I'm very disappointed in how I played and how we played," Deng said. "But I'm really proud of this team. Our goal is way bigger than one night. We're not going to drop our head. It's a long season."
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