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Derrick Rose vows revenge after Pacers' victory celebration

Guard Derrick Rose who had 24 points loses ball out bounds fourth quarter. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Guard Derrick Rose, who had 24 points, loses the ball out of bounds in the fourth quarter. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 27, 2012 10:00AM

Defeating inferior teams despite a rash of injuries is something the Bulls have proved they can do while racking up the league’s best record.

Beating one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference without two of their best players is a different matter, and the Indiana Pacers snapped the Bulls’ eight-game home winning streak with a 95-90 victory Wednesday night.

The Bulls were without Luol Deng and Taj Gibson but still had a chance against the Pacers, who pushed the Bulls during their first-round playoff series last season and rank among the league leaders in rebounding and opponents’ field-goal percentage. And it was the Pacers who made the plays down the stretch to hold off the Bulls.

Even though Ronnie Brewer played one of the best games of his career, the Bulls missed Deng, who doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for the team and probably won’t as long as Derrick Rose is around. The Bulls also missed Gibson’s defense and rebounding against the Pacers, who outrebounded the Bulls 44-41 and outscored them 50-40 in the paint.

“Getting ready to play is a big part of this league,” said coach Tom Thibodeau, who didn’t think his team prepared well enough. “You’ve got to be ready to play every night. As soon as you start feeling good about yourself, you’re going to get knocked on your butt. That’s the way it is.”

The Bulls blew a 10-point halftime lead and trailed by seven in the fourth quarter before pulling to 90-88 on two Brewer free throws with 1:33 left. Rose had the ball in his hands and a chance to tie it with 35 seconds left but was double-teamed and passed to a wide-open Brian Scalabrine for a three-point attempt.

Scalabrine’s potential game-winner from the baseline was short and flat, and the Pacers claimed their first victory at the United Center in eight tries.

“I didn’t have a shot,” Rose said. “I thought I made the right play.”

The top of the United Center might have blown off if fan favorite Scalabrine had made what for him was a rare chance at a game-winning three-pointer.

While Rose looked timid at times in the victory Monday night over the New Jersey Nets after missing three consecutive games with a sprained toe, he was back in attack mode against the Pacers. Rose had his way with Darren Collison and George Hill.

He scored 12 in a row late in the second quarter and finished with 24 points and three assists.

Brewer, starting at small forward for Deng, finished with a season-high 20 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Rip Hamilton added 17 points, Carlos Boozer scored 11 and Joakim Noah had 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The bench only had eight points on a night the starters needed all the help they could get.

The game was chippy at times, and the way the Pacers celebrated didn’t go unnoticed by the Bulls.

“I’ll never forget how they celebrated after the game,” Rose said. “I can’t wait to play them again.”

The Bulls’ next game vs. the Pacers is March 5 at the United Center.

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