Bulls forward Luol Deng knocks the ball from Heat forward LeBron James during… (John Gress / Reuters )
Reporting from Chicago
If this is a preview of what's to come, the NBA should consider making this a best-of-nine series. Or how about 11?
The Chicago Bulls took a 1-0 lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals in an enthralling game Sunday night that featured eight ties and nine lead changes, numerous dunks and Dwyane Wade head fakes, a big night from Chris Bosh but a bigger one from Derrick Rose.
Rose scored 28 points and dished out six assists as the Bulls stormed to a 103-82 victory.
"We took a beating tonight, and we'll get better," said Bosh, who had 30 points and nine rebounds.
Game 2 will be Wednesday at the United Center as Oprah Winfrey takes over the building Monday and Tuesday for her farewell TV shows.
The Heat entered as the series favorites even though the Bulls have home-court advantage and won all three regular-season meetings.
Those three games were decided by a total of eight points; this one was over midway through the fourth quarter.
Typical for a team that might be the deepest in the NBA, the Bulls got strong contributions up and down their bench.
Forward Taj Gibson posterized Wade with a thunderous slam and three-point play in the second quarter. Swingman Ronnie Brewer scored four straight in the fourth after making a steal and drawing a clear-path foul. And point guard C.J. Watson launched a contested 23-foot fling to beat the shot clock that gave the Bulls an 83-66 lead and left Heat defender Jamaal Magloire with his head down.
"Our bench has been great all year," Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau said. "You can count on their energy and effort every night."
Miami actually outshot the Bulls, hitting 47.1%. But Chicago made 10 of 21 three-point attempts and crushed the Heat in assists (23-11) and rebounds (45-33).
Booed throughout the game, LeBron James scored just 15 points on five-for-15 shooting and got outplayed by the man guarding him, Luol Deng (21 points).
"In the playoffs there aren't good performances or bad performances — just wins and losses," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We took one on the chin tonight."
Miami's most productive player was Bosh, who has been more of a third wheel than a third Musketeer.
Perhaps Bosh drew some added motivation from Carlos Boozer's comment last week that Miami has "two great players" in Wade and James.
Two of Bosh's points came on a right-handed slam over Boozer in the third quarter. But Chicago owned the third, outscoring the visitors 24-15 and taking a 72-63 lead on a Deng three-pointer.
Miami jumped out to a 19-11 lead about two hours after Spoelstra said he expected a slugging start: "There will be lot of emotion to start this game. At some point, a basketball game will break out."
Thibodeau could not disagree: "They're a strong defensive team, and we'd like to think we're a strong defensive team. Baskets will be hard to get."
That wasn't so much the case for the Heat. Its first five buckets were launched within a few feet of the rim — a Wade dunk, a James slam, a Bosh put-back, a Bosh layup and a driving layup by Mike Bibby.
But Gibson's slam over Wade tied it early in the second quarter, and the Bulls dominated the second half.