Derrick Rose had 29 points and 16 assists, as the Chicago Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 on Friday night.
Luol Deng and Joakim Noah added 19 points apiece and Richard Hamilton had 16 for the Bulls against their former coach, Vinny Del Negro.
Blake Griffin had 34 points and 13 rebounds for the Clippers, who kept it close most of the way coming off a 25-point loss at San Antonio. Caron Butler added 16 points and Chris Paul had 15 points and 14 assists in his matchup against Rose, the NBA's MVP last season.
The Clippers, who outshot the Bulls and outscored them in the paint, got within three early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer by rookie Trey Thompkins.
Then the Bulls took over.
Ronnie Brewer hit a 3-pointer and made two free throws before Rose made two free throws, then Deng hit a 3-pointer from in front of the Clippers' bench to give Chicago its largest lead of the game, 97-84.
Griffin single-handedly fuelled the Clippers' offence with eight straight points that included a ferocious dunk in which he walked away with his fists clenched and his teeth gritted. Still, it left his team trailing by eight points with less than five minutes to play.
The Bulls effectively used 3-pointers to keep the Clippers at bay in the fourth, when they hit four, including two by Rose.
Chicago moved out to a seven-point lead in the third quarter, when the Clippers' DeAndre Jordan picked up his fourth foul. He finished with 10 points.
Mo Williams and Butler hit consecutive 3-pointers as part of a 13-6 run that helped the Clippers tie the game at 77. But the Bulls answered with six straight points while the Clippers missed their final five shots to lead 83-77 going into the fourth. Deng had 10 points in the quarter.
The Bulls closed on a 10-2 run, including four straight by Noah, to lead 57-52 at halftime. The first two quarters were mostly back and forth, with the Clippers leading by eight in the first 12 minutes.
Griffin and Paul took to the court before tipoff to thank the fans for their support, with Griffin saying, "We're going to try to make this a season you won't forget."
Los Angeles opened with a bang, making its first six shots, with Paul feeding Griffin for a two-handed dunk on the Clippers' first basket. Jordan had the crowd roaring with his one-handed dunk off a ball tossed toward the basket by Butler.