With Steve Kerr calling the game courtside for TNT and Toni Kukoc stopping by the United Center to join dynasty-era regulars Scottie Pippen, Randy Brown, Stacey King, Bill Wennington and John Paxson, the roar surely sounded familiar.
As soon as public address announcer Tommy Edwards began his familiar call of “From Chicago …,” the joint erupted as it did so often when Michael Jordan and Co. roamed the place, dominating the league.
Sure, Derrick Rose had played exhibitions at home already. But the sellout crowd of 22,022 knew Thursday night marked something special, something more real.
And No. 1 provided game-winning heroics that a certain No. 23 would have loved, rising high over Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to drop home a difficult right-handed floater with 5.7 seconds remaining for an 82-81 victory.
Forget the initial roar. The one after the game-winner still may be lingering.
“I missed enough damn shots the whole night,” Rose said. “I’m used to those situations. That’s why I work so hard. And I’m not going to continue missing the shots I’m missing.”
Carmelo Anthony, who scored a game-high 22 points, missed a good look at a potential game-winner over Luol Deng at the buzzer.
The Bulls tied a franchise record with their sixth straight home opening victory. It’s also their sixth straight triumph over the Knicks, a franchise quite familiar with that decorated Bulls’ era.
Rose’s game-winner gave him a team-high 18 points and softened the stain of his second straight difficult shooting night. Rose went 7-for-23 from the field and committed two costly turnovers in the final 87 seconds.
But there was never a doubt who would get the ball on the final possession.
“He’s a very strong-minded person,” Joakim Noah said. “He doesn’t let anything get to him. At the end of the game, you want the ball in his hands.”
Noah and Carlos Boozer set solid screens on the play. Rose dribbled down to the baseline and let fly.
Deng, aggressive throughout after his foul-plagued opener, added 17 points. Noah battled Chandler to finish with 15 rebounds, moving far better than in his debut after missing most of the preseason with a groin injury.
Chandler had given the Knicks, who trailed by 10 entering the fourth, a one-point lead with 10.8 seconds left after splitting two free throws following a loose-ball foul on Noah. Chandler had 19 boards.
Wearing black tape on a stiff neck that sidelined him from the morning shootaround, Rose looked like he sported racing stripes. But too often, he dribbled into trouble, another sign he and the Bulls aren’t yet fully in sync.
The Bulls shot 2-for-15 in the fourth, with Rose making both.
“The only way you clean that up is you have to practice,” coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third after a 2-for-11 first half finally got Rose going. But his first floater of the season started the party.
“For me, it’s no pressure,” he said. “If you’re going to miss, you’re going to miss. I just love taking it because there’s nothing like building up your resume and leaving a mark on your legacy.”