Even though he waited a long time for this matchup, Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving was low-key before his first NBA game against Derrick Rose. Because of injuries to both players, Irving and Rose didn't play against each other the past two seasons.
"He's an established superstar in this league, a former MVP," Irving told reporters at the Cavaliers' shootaround. "(I have) nothing but respect for him, but tonight we're going to try and get the win with my teammates."
Irving was coming off one of the best games of his career, posting 39 points and 12 assists in an overtime victory over Philadelphia. He also scored the game-winner on a layup with 0.6 seconds left.
"I know (Rose) is an extremely hard worker," Irving said. "I know he's been putting a lot of time in the gym and you know it will pay off. It's the beginning of the season. His shots will fall, I'm pretty sure. He looks more explosive, as quick as he used to. It will be exciting."
Duke moves in:
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke Blue Devils were special guests at Monday's game. Duke plays Kansas at the United Center on Tuesday night.
Krzyzewski also is Tom Thibodeau's boss, in a way. This summer Thibodeau was added to Krzyzewski's coaching staff with the U.S. national team. They worked together at a Team USA training camp in Las Vegas.
"It was a great experience," Thibodeau said. "He's a fantastic leader, just terrific. To achieve the way he's achieved throughout his career, that's the mark of greatness. I think he and Jerry Colangelo have done an unbelievable job with USA Basketball. Of course, what Coach K has done at Duke has been remarkable."
There were four former Duke players on the court Monday, between Carlos Boozer, Luol Deng, Mike Dunleavy and Cleveland's Kyrie Irving.
Parity reigns in East:
It has been a strange start to the NBA season. Through Sunday's games, Indiana was 7-0, while every other team in the Eastern Conference had either 3 or 4 losses.
"We knew that a lot of teams in the East had improved," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "That's not uncommon to start a season. I think Indiana has separated themselves with their start. I knew this summer, from just studying what was done, in our division alone, that those teams had improved significantly. You have to be ready in this league."
When the Bulls beat Utah on Friday, it was the first time in franchise history the Bulls shot better than 50 percent from the field (52.8) and held their opponent below 30 percent (29.4), according to Elias Sports Bureau. … Cleveland coach Mike Brown made a late lineup switch Monday, starting center Andrew Bynum for the first time. … Two recent Bulls coaches are on the Cavaliers' staff: Jim Boylan and Bernie Bickerstaff.