Game 23 Recap: Bulls 92, Pacers 73

This was one of those classic “the final score doesn’t tell the whole story” games.

Danny Granger — Indiana’s best player — didn’t play because of a sprained ankle.

The Bulls started out on fire, building a 25-8 lead in the first quarter. At that point, it looked like the Pacers were going to get blown right out of the United Center.

With 4:16 left in the first and the Bulls still up 17 points, Derrick Rose fouled Dahntay Jones. It was Rose’s second personal. He headed to the bench…and momentum shifted.

Minus Rose, Chicago’s offense lulled and Indiana’s defensive intensity picked up. The Pacers closed the quarter on a 10-2 run. By the time Derrick re-entered the game less than a minute into the second quarter, Indy’s D had given them the advantage.

Things got physical. Their was a lot of uncalled contact around the basket. So much so that the usually mild-mannered Rose picked up a technical foul for arguing a no-call. Considering his history of calm, I had figured I’d see a nun flip somebody off before I saw Rose start beefing with the officials.

It’s probably necessary. No matter what some people say — that Rose doesn’t draw contact on his many drives to the basket — Derrick gets hit. Often. It’s just that, unlike most NBA players, he doesn’t flail or flop or scream when it happens. That fact, more so than his ability to absorb the blows and finish anyway, is what has prevented him from making more trips to the line.

At any rate, when the game got rough, the Pacers started taking over. The nabbed the lead. They were grabbing all the rebounds and making all the hustle plays. Josh McRoberts ran past and jumped over everybody for two put-back slams within a minute of each other. Indy was just outworking the Bulls.

Thanks to a quick end-of-the-half flurry by Rose — a driving layup and one, an assist on a three-pointer by Kyle Korver and a three of his own off a dish from Carlos Boozer — Chicago went to halftime with a 43-41 lead.

I have to give the Pacers credit. During the third quarter, the Bulls kept flirting with a double-digit lead, but they couldn’t push their advantage past nine points. The Indy players really did give it all they had. They clogged the middle and forced the Bulls into a lot of contested two-pointers. They harassed D-Rose into a bad shooting night (6-for-18). And they kept Joakim Noah off the boards, limiting him to five rebounds on the night.

Fortunately for Chicago, Carlos Boozer picked up the slack with 22 points (10-for-21) and 18 rebounds. Again, this is why management brought in Boozer. So that Rose and Noah don’t have to kill themselves every single night.

As ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell said: “Boozer’s ability to score down low helped push the Bulls out of their funk. His energy off the glass during the second half helped get the team on track. He is slowly becoming the security blanket down low that the Bulls had hoped he would be.”

All hail Boozington!

Mind you, despite having a “bad” game, Derrick still finished with 17 points, 12 assists, 6 rebounds and a steal. He also went 3-for-6 from downtown. Rose is entering that superstar zone where even his subpar games are pretty darn good.

Anyway, in the fourth quarter, Chicago’s offense got back on track while Indiana’s offense — thanks, of course, to the Bulls’ defense — became all three-pointers and long jumpers. After T.J. Ford hit a 20-footer to pull the Pacers to within four points (73-69) with 6:30 remaining, the Bulls ripped off a 19-4 run to close out the game.

Unfortunately, with 1:56 left, Rose was fouled while in mid-air and fell. I mean, he fell hard. Hard enough that whoever was managing the United Center almost needed to call in a fleet of ambulances. Seriously, 21,287 hearts stopped dead for a few seconds.

The way he reacted to the fall, it looked like Rose sprained an ankle. But actually, he sprained his right wrist. The good news: X-rays were negative.

Said Rose: “I saw my whole future flash before my eyes, coming down. I thought it was going to be worse than that. But right now it just feels sore. That’s basketball. Some of the times, the games are going to be physical. And you got to be able to play through them.”

Of course, he also had this to say about the foul that sent him to the hardwood: “[Brandon Rush] slid in my way. If anything, next time I’ll be careful and learn from my mistakes. Especially with that team.”

Rose seems a little perturbed, doesn’t he?

Added Bulls athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi: “All the bones are in the right place. So from that point, we know that it’s not too severe from the sprain standpoint, so we’ll just kind of keep our fingers crossed and hope it stays that way.”

As for the Bulls, their defense is really picking up. These are the point totals they’ve held their opponents to in the last five games: 90, 83, 84, 82, 73. In the last three games, they’ve held their foes to a season low in points.

Said Indiana’s Mike Dunleavy: “They’re a really good defensive team. [They’re] well coached. We already knew that coming in. But we didn’t help the situation by missing a lot of open 3’s in the second half.”

The Bulls have now won six in a row. It’s the first time they’ve won that many consecutive games since November 25 through December 8 in 2006.

Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

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13 Responses to Game 23 Recap: Bulls 92, Pacers 73

    Enigmatik December 14, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    I’m thankful for the win and thankful that D. Rose made it out of the game in one piece. You’re not kidding about heart stoppage…I know I had 2 heart attacks when I saw him clutching his leg and then when he was on the ground after Rush undercut him. He’s listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game…hopefully he can still go…the team needs to keep this momentum going.

    C.J. does not look comfortable as a back-up point guard. We know he has the ability to be a good offensive player as his 33 point outburst in Denver showed, but that needs to be seen more often. He’s only scored in double figures twice all season.

    Was it just me or was Noah looking a step slow all night? Didn’t seem to have his usual energy…Boozer on the other hand was great. Active all game long, that’s what we expect to see on a nightly basis.

    Bogans wasn’t too terrible, but there still has to be a better alternative to him in the starting lineup.

    They have got to stop falling asleep for 12 minutes in every game…it’s like the second quarter is nap time for this team. Fortunately, the Pacers aren’t very good and the Bulls took care of business after the half. 48 minutes of complete basketball is what’s needed.

    Keep stomping through the East, Bulls!

    Tony C. December 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    I have a hard time understanding why Rose wasn’t taken out for good after the ankle roll. The Bulls were firmly in control, and while yet another injury couldn’t have been predicted, why take the chance, and why push him into unnecessary minutes?

    I understand that Rose has that admirable competitive spirit that all great athletes share, but part of good coaching is to leave something in the tank. Doc Rivers did a masterful job last year not worrying about relatively unimportant games, and orchestrating the season so that his most important players would be at their best when it counted. Given the relatively sift string of games coming up, I would really like to see Thibs give both Rose and Noah more rest, as both would benefit down the road.

    Tony C. December 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    sift = soft

    Gorditadog December 14, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Brent Barry suggested last night on NBA-TV that the Bulls should trade for a back-up point guard. He thinks C.J. is a good player but is best in the open court. Barry thinks with a true back-up point guard, Rose could get minutes at the two.

    cavendish December 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    Should have pulled Rose after that ankle turn. He was getting into it with TJ Ford and you could just see it pushing past the point of safe play. The game was in hand and the pacers were getting cheap – I understand he probably didn’t want to come out cause he wanted to keep going at TJ (seemed like he was spouting some smack) but he’s just too important to lose that way.

    Also thought bringing in Kurt Thomas would help in the spine department but if he’s not playing how can he help prevent cheap shots at Rose? Back in the day the old “Oak Tree” was the enforcer who dished out pain if someone submarined MJ. Well, Rush submarined Rose last night and I didn’t see anyone go after him. Just like when Dwight Howard did the same last year.

    Still looking for some backbone I guess.

  6. chad December 14, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Coach needs to think a little more. Instead of leaving Rose in when he hurt his ankle, he should have benched him immediately. Bulls were way ahead and Indiana didn’t have time to come back. Continuing to play could hurt his ankle worse and risk another injury which happened. Who cares if Rose wants to play hurt, still must take him out.

    Gorditadog December 14, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    Refs did let the game get out of hand last night. Bulls players were not afraid to mix it up, but I hate to see teams play Riley-Knicks-style. I would like to see more of Kurt on the floor and agree last night he could have seen some minutes.

    Teams with less talent are going to get more physical with us, especially if they have a lot of pride, so we need to expect it and deal with it. I am disappointed with the lack of calls by the refs but am not holding my breath that this will change.

    Savage December 14, 2010 at 6:31 pm #

    That was one of the worst officiated games I have seen this year by far. Way too many cheap shots that the refs did not call. I agree Rose should have been taken out of the game and that Noah did not look like himself at all. Is he injured? Glad to see we are on a roll either way!

  9. Inception December 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm #

    Thibs just announced that he thinks Rose will play Wed night….not sure if that’s coach talk or his actual thoughts, but damn, either way Rose is a warrior.

    chitown4life December 15, 2010 at 3:49 am #

    About rose shewww I like many I am sure was like
    OOOH Noooooo not D Rose MR.
    UNSTOPABULL said a prayer that he was not hurt badly I already knew he was hurt speaking of the second time he flew like superman and crahsed to the floor, i tell you all i saw the season flash there which I am so greatful to god that he was not hurt so badly that it put him not only off the court but hurt seriouly which tells me how valuable a player he is in my mind to the bulls well if this did not hit a spot to many of you guess you just have not been watching D Rose possible MVP and definatly most valuable person on the bulls team play but thank you God for not letting his injury be too bad on another note look forward to watching more of this kid play he is just incredible off the charts the scary thing is I don’t think I have seen him play his best game yet imagine that with all he has done already well . peace

    Scottie Pippen December 15, 2010 at 6:45 am #

    when a team is down make sure they stay down, and then go for blood, and no need to go all out in the final minute of a game thats basically in the bag, milk the clock, spread the pumpkin, and close out the game with defense

    i would not play him against the raptors, it will test the bulls much in the same way when the boozington was out, time and youth is on his side, hopefully he’ll make a quick recovery.


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