Derrick Rose shakes off aching ankle, Bulls roll past Pacers
BY HERB GOULD email@example.com April 27, 2011 12:06AM
Bulls center Joakim Noah drives on Indiana center Roy Hibbert in the first quarter as the Chicago Bulls battle the Indiana Pacers in game five of the first round Tuesday April 26, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
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Updated: July 26, 2011 12:22AM
Grandfather knows best.
With grandpa Zacharie Noah in
attendance, a sky-high Joakim Noah got the Bulls off to the start they’ve been wanting.
And with Derrick Rose’s left ankle looking ready to roll, the Bulls finally took care of the pesky Indiana Pacers.
The Bulls energetically put away the Pacers 116-89 in Game 5 on Tuesday at the United Center to close out the first-round series 4-1.
‘‘The energy was just there from the beginning,’’ Noah said. ‘‘My grand
father was there, my sister, my mom. The building is already crazy. There was a lot of energy going on. I just fed off of that.’’
The Bulls will open their second-round series Monday against the winner of the Orlando Magic-Atlanta Hawks series, which is headed to Game 6 on Thursday in Atlanta after the
Magic’s 101-76 victory at home Tuesday. The Hawks lead the series 3-2.
‘‘I’m speechless right now,’’ Rose, who played only 30 minutes because of foul trouble, not his ankle, said after winning an NBA playoff series for the first time. ‘‘I really can’t believe it. It’s a great
accomplishment. We’re going to try to keep this thing going.’’
Coach Tom Thibodeau knew this was a moment for his players.
‘‘It’s always good to advance,’’ he said. ‘‘It doesn’t mean a lot to me as coach.’’
Still, he seemed pleased that the Bulls had delivered a solid knockout punch in Game 5 after four tough encounters.
‘‘We knew we were capable of playing better,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘There were things we had to correct, but we were also up 3-1. In the playoffs, every win is hard to get. I liked our mentality today.’’
The game wasn’t as easy as the Bulls’ 14-2 start hinted it would be. But when the going got rough in the third quarter, Rose got going, making two three-pointers for a 69-57 lead after the Pacers had pulled to 61-57. Rose finished with 25 points.
‘‘He’s tough,’’ guard Kyle Korver said. ‘‘He didn’t just play, he played
really well. He hit those shtos in the second half. He’s the MVP for a
reason, right? He’s young, but he showed a lot of character.’’
Pacers coach Frank Vogel wasn’t lulled by the sprained ankle. Asked how he expected Rose to play, he said, ‘‘I think he’s going to play like an MVP.’’
He was right about that.
‘‘As Derrick Rose goes, so goes Chicago,’’ Pacers forward Danny Granger had said before the series began.
He wasn’t exactly right about that.
Noah, who had 14 points and eight rebounds, was a dynamo, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with his animated cheerleading. He apparently flustered the Pacers’ Josh McRoberts into taking a swing that got McRoberts ejected.
Keith Bogans brought his ‘‘A’’ game, scoring 15 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting through three quarters.
And Taj Gibson (10 points, seven
rebounds) filled in nicely for Carlos Boozer, who had another disappointing, foul-prone game. Boozer left the arena in a walking boot after apparently suffering a bruised toe.
But it does all start with Rose, who scored 12 of his 25 points in the third quarter. When he went to the bench with his fifth foul with 11:30 left, though, the rest of the Bulls dug in and didn’t let the game get away.
After back-to-back three-pointers by Korver and Luol Deng, the Bulls led
96-75 with 7:09 left. And the Pacers were done.
Playing like a No. 1 seed against a No. 8 seed, the Bulls finally showed their horns at the start of the game. With Noah and Rose looking good, the Bulls opened a 14-2 lead.
The whirling Noah scored two baskets and assisted on two others as the Bulls made seven of their first eight shots. Rose also was active, showing early signs that the left ankle he sprained in Game 4 on Saturday was ready to go.
With Zacharie Noah in the crowd, Noah was over-the-top hyped. He cheered when his grandfather was
introduced via the giant video screen and urged the crowd on at both ends of the court, fist-pumping beyond the end line after forcing a turnover on defense and after drawing a foul on offense.
‘‘It feels great, but we’re not satisfied,’’ Noah said. ‘‘We want more. Give credit to the Pacers. They played real tough. They’re very good. We’re going to be facing them for a long time.’’