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Pacers’ strategy to stop Derrick Rose starting to work

Dahntay Jones Pacers pressures Bulls guard Derrick Rose as he tries shoot Saturday Conseco Fieldhouse.  |  Jonathan Daniel~Getty

Dahntay Jones of the Pacers pressures Bulls guard Derrick Rose as he tries to shoot Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse. | Jonathan Daniel~Getty Images

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Updated: May 25, 2011 12:43AM

Vogel is still keeping a tight grasp around that blueprint.

Protect it like the Holy Grail.

Sure, the edges are frayed, the middle has a tear in it where it folds up and there are several coffee stains on it from late nights and early mornings, but the ­Indiana Pacers coach still believes in its effectiveness.

And thanks to an 89-84 Pacers win Saturday, in which all-­everything Bulls point guard
Derrick Rose was held to just 15 points — bad ankle or not — that blueprint on stopping the
unstoppable is laid out for
everyone to view no matter how much Vogel tries to hide it.

“Yeah, we’re showing the rest of the league,’’ guard Paul George said. “I’m not saying our point guards aren’t capable of doing the job. But when you can switch it up .  .  . [Rose has] been guarded by point guards all season long, and it’s kind of difficult to match up with another defender that’s just as quick or a long defender. That’s tough for anybody. Luckily, this team has the players to do so. It’s been giving him a hard time. He’s frustrated.’’

It’s starting to work

There used to be a debate on the effectiveness of the “Jordan Rules” used by the Detroit Pistons during Michael Jordan’s reign.

Through the first four games of this first-round playoff series, there’s no debating that the “Rose Rules’’ are not only alive and well, but they’re starting to get to the MVP-in-waiting.

Through all the double-teaming, trapping up top and hard fouls when Rose breaks containment going to the hoop, the blueprint is simple, really: Use athletic, taller small forwards/two guards on Rose, and use them as a tag team.

Forget trying to guard him with a point guard. That’s a losing battle.

George is 6-8 and has the arm span of a 6-10 power forward. Dahntay Jones is 6-6 and looks like a linebacker. Hits like one, too.

“I love it,’’ Vogel said of what the Jones/George combination has done the last few games. “They’re both doing an equally good job on him. I had a hard time deciding who to go with down the stretch. They’re both very, very different kinds of defenders.

“Paul is all over the place with his hands. He’s great with spacing
and understanding angles of containment and challenging shots late. Dahntay is just under the kid’s chin the whole time, backcourt, frontcourt, everywhere.’’

Numbers heading wrong way

After scoring 39 in Game 1 and seeing his share of 6-foot point guard Darren Collison on him, Rose has watched his scoring go down to 36 points in Game 2, 23 in Game 3 and just 15 on Saturday.

That would be great if he was gas prices or a golf handicap.

“Dahntay is a big body, [it’s] tough to try to play through a big body,’’ George said. “It wears him out a little bit, gets him frustrated. It gets him out of the groove, out of the game, to where he’s tired and wants to shoot jump shots. That’s where my length comes in.

“Anybody would be frustrated if they’re forced to shoot jump shots and that shot is not going down. The team is not in sync. They’re not at their best when he’s shooting jump shots, no matter how good of a shooter he is.’’

And with Rose “frustrated,’’ that means someone else has to play hero. On Saturday, Joakim Noah tried. But if your offensive fortunes rest on Noah, well, you won’t be taking your talents to South Beach, Beantown, and don’t even think about Hollywood.

The question about the “Rose Rules,’’ however, is this: Are the Pacers really the only team in the Eastern Conference that can run them?

Forget Orlando and Atlanta. Not a real match. That leaves Boston possibly trying Jeff Green and a Paul Pierce combo, and Miami using Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. In wearing Rose down, though, they could wear themselves down.

“We’re trying to make him work, take tough shots,’’ Jones said. “That’s all you can ask for in defending somebody. It’s a league where everybody can score and everybody can play the game of basketball. But as long as you make them take tough shots and do things they’re uncomfortable with, you roll the dice.’’

The Pacers rolled them again in Game 4 and pulled a seven to avoid elimination.

“We’re just executing our scheme,’’ Vogel said of the “Rose Rules’’ moving forward. “We’re giving him a bunch of different looks and we’re playing with passion, energy and fight, that simple.

“We deserve to be in this series. I’m still upset it’s 1-3. We should be up in this series.’’

Whoa, easy Frank. Let’s not get carried away. Stick to updating that blueprint, not rewriting history.

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