Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
INDIANAPOLIS — So much for that early-season talk about Derrick Rose not getting to the free-throw line.
The MVP front-runner is 44-for-49 (89.8 percent) from the line in three playoff games. The next-closest players in attempts are Dirk Nowitzki (32-for-36, 86.5) and Le-Bron James (28-for-34, 82.4) among the top 50 in shooting percentage.
“He has more awareness,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s attacking more. Teams try to foul hard to deter him from driving, but that’s not going to change his approach.’’
When his shot isn’t falling — such as when he went 4-for-18 from the field in Game 3 — Rose knows getting to the line can be even more important. And he’s well-schooled at getting there.
“He’s figured it out,’’ Thibodeau said. “He studies, he reads and he’s preparing well. He knows what big guys are trying to take fouls, he knows who goes straight up, who walks into people, who leaves their feet, who doesn’t leave their feet. He’s got great awareness with that.”
Rose also is scoring at a big-time rate. His 32.7 points per game are second in the playoffs to Dwight Howard’s 39.5.
No winning whining
When it comes to winning, Rose isn’t concerned about style points or the need to post more impressive victories.
“Get the wins and move on,’’ he said, not worried about three squeakers against the Pacers. “As long as we’re winning, we shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
“We know we’re not playing our best basketball, but we’re still winning playoff games. We’re happy we’re in this position. It gets graded later. That’s what I always say.’’
NBA officials are taking a look at the hard fouls delivered by Pacers center Jeff Foster against Rose and Luol Deng on Thursday.
“I thought they were good, clean playoff fouls,’’ Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.
“We don’t want flagrants. We’re not trying to hurt people. But we protect our basket, and we protect it in a physical manner.’’
Neither play resulted in a flagrant call, which would saddle Foster with points that could lead to a suspension.
“Let the league make those decisions,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’re just getting ready for the next game.’’