Derrick Rose's official return to the United Center could have easily ended as a tale of failure.
Rose hit just 7 of 23 shots in the game and turned the ball over twice on drives to the basket during the final minutes against the New York Knicks.
The Bulls also squandered a 10-point lead during a tense fourth quarter and trailed 81-80 with 10.8 seconds left. New York went ahead when Joakim Noah was called for a loose-ball foul after a Knicks miss and ex-Bull Tyson Chandler hit the second of 2 free throws.
As it turned out, Rose didn't even need all 10.8 seconds to turn himself into a hero. He drove the right side of the court, pulled up and dropped in a tough one-hander from 12 feet away, over Chandler and Raymond Felton with 5.7 seconds on the clock.
That stunning return to his old form gave the Bulls an 82-81 victory in their home opener and evened their record at 1-1.
"For Derrick's homecoming, for him to hit the game-winner ... I know it's special for him, but it's special for us, too," Noah said. "It's been a long year and a half and to have him back is huge."
On the Knicks' final possession, Carmelo Anthony missed a 22-foot jumper and Chandler couldn't bank in a tip attempt as the horn sounded.
So a rough night overall ended in triumph. All in a night's work for a former MVP playing his first regular-season home game since suffering a torn ACL in his left knee on April 28, 2012.
"That's why I worked so hard. That was my first floater, I think, in the whole season," Rose said in a jam-packed Bulls locker room. "I think that's what builds your resume. That leaves a mark on your legacy. I want to be known as one of those players."
Rose's only strong shooting moment during the course of this game came when he drained consecutive 3-point baskets early in the third quarter.
He shot just 2 free throws all night and those happened with 3:16 left and tied the score at 78-78. Those points ended a 12-0 Knicks run, which erased a 10-point Bulls lead.
The Bulls took an 80-78 edge with 2:05 remaining on 2 free throws by Noah. On the Bulls' next possession, Rose drove toward the basket and had the ball stolen by Iman Shumpert. Rose reached out and fouled the Oak Park native, whose free throws tied the score with 1:27 left.
On the next two trips, Rose missed s driving bank, then got caught in the air on another drive and sent a pass out of bounds. When it counted most, Rose put all of his failures to good use and took off a little farther away from the basket than usual.
"Tyson made me take a lot of difficult shots tonight," Rose said. "I learned from it later on in the game that I had to float it over him because they were giving me a tough whistle tonight.
"I'm not going to continue missing the shots I normally make. I've worked too, too hard for that. It's going to be scary when I do make those shots."
Rose finished with 18 points, 3 assists and 4 turnover. Luol Deng added 17 points and Noah pulled down 15 rebounds.
Anthony finished with 22 points, but hit just 8 of 24 shots, working almost exclusively against Deng. Chandler grabbed 19 rebounds.