Derrick Rose made a baseline floater with 5.7 seconds left to lift the Chicago Bulls to an 82-81 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday night in his first home game since he injured his left knee 18 months ago.
Rose had 18 points on 7-of-23 shooting and committed four turnovers. But there was no doubt who was getting the ball after Tyson Chandler went 1 for 2 at the line to give New York an 81-80 lead with 10.8 seconds remaining.
The speedy point guard, who was a game-time decision for his return due to a sore neck, got the ball on the wing and drove to the baseline for the go-ahead basket, drawing a standing ovation from the delirious crowd at the United Center.
New York had one last chance but Carmelo Anthony missed a long jumper. Anthony then stood with his hands on his hips as the Bulls celebrated.
Luol Deng had 17 points for Chicago, which matched a franchise record with its fifth consecutive win in home openers. The Bulls also beat the Knicks for the sixth straight time.
New York coach Mike Woodson opted for a bigger look against Chicago, inserting 7-foot Andrea Bargnani into the starting lineup and using guard Pablo Prigioni as a reserve. But the Bulls still enjoyed a 46-24 advantage in points in the paint and a 48-42 rebounding edge, led by Joakim Noah's 15 boards.
Amar'e Stoudemire made his season debut for the Knicks and had five points in 10 minutes. The power forward, who turns 31 on Nov. 16, is coming off minor knee surgery over the summer and looked as if the years of health problems had robbed him of much of his athleticism.
New York trailed 76-66 with 7:53 remaining, but rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. made a 3-pointer to spark a 12-0 run for the Knicks. Felton connected from long range, Iman Shumpert had a dunk and Anthony closed out the spurt with a turnaround jumper that put New York in front with 4:10 remaining.
The last part of the game mostly consisted of turnovers and missed shots, but Chicago managed to survive behind Rose, who had both of the Bulls' field goals in the final period.
Jimmy Butler finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago, which lost 107-95 at NBA champion Miami in its season opener on Tuesday night. Carlos Boozer added 14 points and seven boards.
Anthony led New York with 22 points on 8-of-24 shooting. Chandler had 19 rebounds, but the Knicks were unable to open the season with consecutive victories on consecutive nights. They were coming off a 90-83 victory against Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Wearing strips of black tape on either side of his balky neck, Rose received a thunderous ovation from the sellout crowd when he was the last player introduced during the pregame festivities. He showed no outward emotion as he ran out of the tunnel with fans waving glowing red sticks in celebration of the return of the Chicago native.
After Rose got on the court, chants of "M-V-P! M-V-P!" rang out from the seats at the United Center.
It was Rose's first real game at the Bulls' longtime home since he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in the first game of the 2012 playoffs against Philadelphia. What followed was a long and arduous rehabilitation process that raised questions about Rose's toughness when he was unable to return last season.
That whole "Will he or won't he play" episode was long forgotten when he took the court against the Knicks, taking a quick moment to blow a kiss toward the luxury boxes before tipoff.
It was clear early on that Rose is still getting his legs under him after a strong preseason, and the rest of the Bulls are getting used to playing with their All-Star guard again.
Rose missed his first four shots before he had a pair of driving layups in the first quarter. He was just 2 for 11 from the field in the first half, but Deng had 12 points to help Chicago to a 43-38 lead at the break.