Pacers’ ‘all’ just isn’t enough to top Bulls
BY LACY J. BANKS firstname.lastname@example.org April 26, 2011 11:50PM
The Pacers’ Paul George rejects a shot by Derrick Rose in the second quarter of Game 5 on Tuesday at the United Center. Rose scored a game-high 25 points in the Bulls’ series clincher. | Nam Y. Huh~AP
Updated: May 28, 2011 12:36AM
As they had done in their previous three losses, the Indiana Pacers died hard Tuesday night.
But this loss was most costly because it ended their season.
Derrick Rose scored a game-high 25 points to lead the Bulls to a 116-89 victory and a 4-1 series win in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
“Nobody can say that we didn’t give our all,” said Danny Granger, who led the Pacers with 20 points. “We came here to play them tough, and that’s what we did every game in this series. I’m proud of our effort.”
Keith Bogans opened the game by hitting the first of his five three-pointers, and the Bulls led all the way.
But the Pacers refused to fold until they had no choice. After the Pacers trimmed a 14-point deficit to four following a three-point play by Tyler Hansbrough with 6:17 left in the third quarter, Bulls coach Tim Thibodeau played high roller. He gambled by sending Rose back in the game despite his four fouls. The result: Thibodeau hit the jackpot as Rose ignited a 23-8 run that ended the third and blew the game open.
While outscoring the Pacers 30-19 in the third, the Bulls also displayed some terrific defense. They forced seven turnovers (the Pacers had 20 for the game) and allowed just 36.8 percent shooting.
As he said he would, Pacers coach Frank Vogel smacked Rose around defensively to keep him from penetrating the paint at will as he had previously. But that was all right with Rose. He simply pulled up for jumpers and swished three three-pointers.
“I’d like to congratulate the Bulls,” Vogel said. “They’ve had a great season. But I’m proud of the way our kids fought and put Pacer basketball back on the map.
“The future looks bright for our team. This was valuable experience for us. We knew it would be tough coming back into their building. But we never quit, even when we fell behind early.”
When the Bulls led 84-65 after three, you knew a Pacers win would be a long, long shot because they would have to do what the Bulls had done all series. They would have to dominate the fourth quarter and pull a miracle comeback.
All series long, the fourth quarter had belonged to the Bulls, who had outscored the Pacers 110-85 in the final quarter. They outscored Indiana again Tuesday, 32-24.
Rose went to the bench with his fifth foul a mere 30 seconds into the fourth. But by that time, it didn’t matter. The damage had been done, and the Bulls were on cruise control.
Rose, who showed that he was hardly hampered by the sprained left ankle he suffered in the first quarter of Game 4, wasn’t the only Bull troubled by fouls. Once again, Carlos Boozer never could get untracked as he suffered his second foul with 4:45 left in the first. It was small consolation to the Pacers that Boozer scored only two points and grabbed five rebounds in only 15:31.
“We did our best to stop Rose,” Vogel said. “But he’s such a talented player. Nobody has the answer for him.”
The Pacers’ frustration peaked late in the third when Josh McRoberts was ejected for throwing a vicious elbow at Joakim Noah. Replays showed that McRoberts actually was retaliating for a soft elbow that Noah had thrown at him early. But McRoberts got the hook with 2.5 seconds left in the third.
Each team committed 23 fouls in the slugfest, and the Pacers outscored the Bulls 24-22 from the line, the second straight game they had done so. But the Bulls converted 14 three-pointers to seven for Indiana.