Exhibition finales are more beginnings than endings.

With the drudgery of training camp concluded, anticipation for Tuesday night's high-profile opener in Miami begins. And holding true to his word, coach Tom Thibodeau played his rotation players close to regular-season minutes, giving this one the feel of what's to come.

Overcoming an extremely flat and mistake-prone first half, the Bulls rallied from a 19-point deficit to down the Nuggets 94-89 and cap an 8-0 schedule.

"You can't come out like we did and not have energy and intensity and an edge," Thibodeau said. "We have a lot of work to do. The preseason basically tells you where you are. We did some things OK, some things not so well. The moment of truth is coming. We have to put the work into it."

Carlos Boozer didn't exit in the second half and led the Bulls with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Luol Deng logged 34 minutes and added 23 points and 12 boards. Jimmy Butler played almost the entire second half and 37 minutes overall.

"When you study championship teams you see certain trends," Thibodeau said. "Guys like (Michael) Jordan, Paul Pierce, (Tim) Duncan early on in his career, all those guys conditioned themselves to play big minutes. (Scottie) Pippen played big minutes here. If you start pacing yourself, you can get yourself in trouble.

"You have to do all the things necessary to condition yourself to go through a long season. It's very competitive. And when you look at the makeup of … most teams, two or three guys are playing a long time."

The Bulls again were without guard Kirk Hinrich and center Joakim Noah.