CHICAGO—Nikola Mirotic scored 19 points and Derrick Rose added 18 to lead the Chicago Bulls to a season-opening 97-95 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers with President Barack Obama watching on Tuesday night.
The Bulls, playing a more open offence with Hoiberg than they did under Tom Thibodeau, did not exactly light it up. But they came away with a promising win.
Butler added 17 points and two steals to go with that deflected pass for Chicago.
The Cavaliers took an 83-82 lead on a floater by James with 5:32 left in the game.
But just when it looked like the lead was safe, the Cavaliers came roaring back again.
Love nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 97-95 with 33 seconds remaining. After a miss by Rose with 10 seconds remaining, a driving James got stuffed by Gasol.
The ball bounced out along the baseline, and Butler broke up the inbounds, preserving a tight victory for Chicago.
Obama, in his hometown to speak to the International Association of Chief of Police and attend a Democratic fundraiser, had not sat courtside to watch the Bulls since they visited the Washington Wizards in February 2009.
Secret Service agents started blanketing the United Center in the morning and all eyes turned toward the tunnel as Obama entered the arena late in the first quarter. He greeted some people at courtside as he made his way to his seat opposite the scorer’s table.