Heat Check: Balanced effort leads Miami past Chicago

MIAMI — The Miami Heat received their 2012-13 NBA championship rings, then showed they won’t relinquish their crown easily.

It was only one game, the first of 82, but the Heat defeated a team many people consider to be their toughest Eastern Conference rival this season.

And Miami did so without LeBron James (17 points points), Dwyane Wade (13 points) or Chris Bosh (16 points) producing as one might expect.

The Heat’s stars on this night were subs Shane Battier, Ray Allen, Norris Cole and Chris Andersen.

Chicago made it close in the final six minutes, cutting a 25-point fourth-quarter deficit to eight, but the Heat held them off for a 107-95 victory.

Miami followed its ring ceremony with a lethargic start. Udonis Haslem slammed home the game’s first basket before Chicago reeled off nine straight points.

Chicago led 13-10 when Battier and Allen entered the game with 3:52 left in the first quarter. Each hit a 3-pointer as Miami closed with a 7-2 run to lead by two heading into the second quarter.

The entire Heat team then raised the intensity of its defense, getting some easy baskets, and moved the ball better offensively.

Battier scored eight points in just under seven minutes, and Allen had five assists in 9:04 of the quarter.

Cole (5 points, four rebounds) and Andersen (2 points, three rebounds) also helped fuel Miami’s second-quarter surge. The Heat outscored the Bulls 37-18 in the quarter to lead 54-33 at halftime.

The Bulls shot 30 percent (6 of 20) and committed six turnovers in the second quarter. Chicago forward Luol Deng committed three fouls in the first quarter and didn’t play in the second.

Bulls point guard Derrick Rose had 12 points and four assists in 34:21 as he returned after missing all of last season due to a knee injury.

Center Greg Oden and guard Roger Mason Jr. were designated as Miami’s inactives and watched the game in street clothes.

The turning point

Miami dominated the second quarter to build a 21-point halftime lead.

They did so behind bench contributions and despite Wade (2 of 8) and Bosh (3 of 8) struggling through the first 24 minutes.

The difference maker

Shane Battier. The reserve forward entered with Allen late in the first quarter and helped produce a much-needed spark. Battier hit all four shots, including three 3-pointers, in the first half to take a team-high 11 points into the locker room as Miami led 54-33.

Stat of the game

Miami shot 55 percent (11 of 20) from 3-point territory. Chicago hit 7 of 26 (26.9 percent).

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What’s next

Heat visit the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Charlie McCarthy can be reached at mac1763@bellsouth.net or on Twitter @mccarthy_chas.