CLEVELAND — Former Chicago Bulls — and Chicago natives — Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose were in the starting backcourt Tuesday night.
But it was for the Cavaliers, who fell 108-94 to the Bulls in exhibition action at Quicken Loans Arena.
Shooting guard Wade, who had looked great in previous games, struggled through a four-point, 1-for-7 night, while point guard Rose had 13 points, five boards and five assists.
Four-time league MVP LeBron James, who had been out with a sprained left ankle and still didn’t look 100 percent, had 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and eight turnovers in his first preseason appearance.
No Cleveland starters played in the fourth quarter as the team fell to 0-4 in the preseason, while Chicago (3-2) got 28 points and 11 boards from new starting shooting guard Justin Holiday.
Still, there’s plenty of optimism surrounding the new-look Cavs.
“I’m in a great place,” said Rose, the league MVP in 2010-11 while with Chicago.
“I’m showing my teeth a lot, man. I’m not frowning all the time or acting mad or whatever. I’m just blessed to be here.”
Wade, who played with the Bulls last season but left $8 million on the table to be bought out of his $23.8 million contract by rebuilding Chicago, was equally upbeat after being named Cleveland’s starting shooting guard — J.R. Smith will come off the bench — by coach Tyronn Lue on Monday.
“I’ve started my whole life, so I can’t say I celebrated or anything,” a smiling Wade said. “When you come to a new team and they’ve had success and guys have been in the starting lineup like J.R.’s been in the two-guard position, I can’t say it’s tough, but you don’t want to come in and change anything. You want to come in and add.
“I’m honored to be starting here. These guys went to The Finals three years in a row, so I don’t take it lightly. The one thing here, from Day 1, which I felt as soon as I walked through the door, everyone is really here for one reason. Everyone is here to do a job. Hopefully that job leads to what everyone wants it to at the end of the season.”
With the Bulls in town, Wade and Rose, who had never played together prior to this season, fielded a lot of questions from the Chicago media about their time in the Windy City.
“I’m 35 years old,” said three-time NBA champion Wade, who signed with the Cavs for $2.3 million. “I’m going into my 15th season. I didn’t want to be a part of rebuilding if I could help it. I gave up a lot of money because it was necessary. It was about being happy and I wanted to be part of the environment I’m in here.”
Both Chicago natives were gracious and thankful for their time with the Bulls, with Rose revealing he made a video in an attempt to recruit Wade, James and Chris Bosh to the team in the summer of 2010. James and Bosh ended up joining Wade in Miami, where they reached four straight NBA Finals and won two titles.
“People always said I didn’t recruit,” said the 29-year-old Rose, who signed with the Cavs for $2.1 million after making $21.3 million with New York last season. “I tried to recruit. I put out a video.”
As things turned out, Wade and Rose are now playing together in Cleveland, and Wade is reunited on the court with close friend James.
“Coming here is comfort,” Wade said. “I’ve played with a guy. I’ve lost championships with a guy, I’ve won championships with a guy, so it made it comfortable for me coming in here.”
“He’s the guy,” Wade added. “As he goes, we’re going to go, but it’s our job to support him.”
Rose, who has never played in The Finals, is grateful to now have that opportunity, especially after overcoming serious knee injuries earlier in his career.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “I’m very fortunate to be here and happy to be here. It’s a clean slate. ... This is probably the best team I’ve ever played on.”
With Rose, Wade, James, Jae Crowder and Kevin Love in the starting lineup, Lue plans to use a second unit of Iman Shumpert, Smith, Kyle Korver, Jeff Green and Tristan Thompson to start the season.
Shumpert, who was back in action after spraining his foot a week ago, will be the first guard to enter, with Wade or James then functioning as the point guard. Rose will then come back to lead the second unit.
That means guys like Jose Calderon, Channing Frye, Cedi Osman, Richard Jefferson and Ante Zizic are currently on the outside looking in.
- There is a new James/Nike banner on the Sherwin-Williams building near The Q. It shows James slapping hands with fans while going through the tunnel that leads to and from the Cleveland locker room, with the caption “Cleveland Wants It All.”
- Starters Love (0-for-9), Wade (0-for-4) and Crowder (0-for-1) combined to go 0-for-14 from the field in the first half, when James had seven turnovers. On the flip side, all the starters scored in a 13-2 run to start the second half.
- Love grabbed his left knee and flexed it as the Bulls were making a free throw, stayed in another possession and then limped off the floor with 4:36 left in the third period. He said he bumped knees with James moments earlier as his teammate was coming down after attempting to block a shot and the injury was nothing serious at all. Love finished with three points on 1-for-12 shooting and eight rebounds.
- The Cavs conclude exhibition play Friday in Orlando.
Bulls 108, Cavaliers 94
CHICAGO (108): Zipser 2-5 0-0 5, Mirotic 1-3 2-2 5, Lopez 5-10 0-0 10, Grant 2-11 3-3 8, Holiday 8-16 8-8 28, Markkanen 7-12 0-0 18, Felicio 1-1 0-0 2, Portis 2-6 2-2 7, LaVine 0-0 0-0 0, Arcidiacono 1-3 0-0 3, Blakeney 0-3 0-0 0, Nwaba 4-6 0-2 8, Valentine 6-14 0-0 14. Totals 39-90 15-17 108.
CLEVELAND (94): James 8-13 0-1 17, Crowder 3-7 0-2 9, Love 1-12 0-0 3, Rose 5-9 2-3 13, Wade 1-7 2-2 4, Holland 2-3 0-0 6, Osman 1-2 0-0 3, Green 3-5 2-2 8, Thompson 2-5 3-3 7, Zizic 0-0 0-0 0, Felder 0-0 0-0 0, Calderon 2-3 0-0 5, Korver 2-7 0-0 6, Smith 0-6 1-2 1, Shumpert 4-5 2-3 12. Totals 34-84 12-18 94.
Chicago 24 26 22 36 — 108
Cleveland 20 22 25 27 — 94
3-Point Goals—Chicago 15-41 (Markkanen 4-7, Holiday 4-7, Valentine 2-8, Zipser 1-2, Arcidiacono 1-3, Mirotic 1-3, Portis 1-3, Grant 1-6, Blakeney 0-2), Cleveland 14-27 (Crowder 3-4, Holland 2-2, Shumpert 2-2, Korver 2-5, Osman 1-1, Rose 1-2, Calderon 1-2, James 1-3, Love 1-4, Smith 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Chicago 51 (Holiday 11), Cleveland 46 (Thompson 11). Assists—Chicago 24 (Grant 5), Cleveland 21 (Rose 5). Total Fouls—Chicago 19, Cleveland 19. A—19,042 (20,562).