So that’s what it feels like to win on the road.
In my game preview post, I said the Bulls were going to need Derrick Rose to play like an All-Star to beat the Pacers. Maybe I was right. Maybe I was wrong. That said…
…Rose did play like an All-Star. And the Bulls won.
Derrick grabbed 10 rebounds and scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half. He shot 11-for-21 from the field, 3-for-6 from downtown and 4-for-5 from the foul line. He even added a couple blocked shots for good measure. On that subject…poor T.J. Ford.
Said Pacers coach Jim O’Brien: “In the second half, when he’s going like he’s going, it doesn’t matter what you do on a pick-and-roll. That’s why people think that he’s an MVP candidate.”
And yes. Rose heard MVP chants on the road.
(Although, in all fairness, Chicago and Indianapolis are pretty close by car…so…)
It wasn’t all Rose though. As ESPNChicago’s Nick Friedell noted, Chicago actually opened the game with some intensity for a change. It’s not coincidence, then, that the Bulls led by 12 at halftime instead of trailing by double digits.
And their defense really did a number on the Pacers.
The Bulls held Indy to 32.6 percent shooting from the field. The Pacers ended up with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 36.4 and an Offensive Rating of 93.9 (as in points per 100 possessions).
Don’t look now, but according to Basketball-Reference, Chicago now leads the league in Defensive Rating.
Said Luol Deng: “That’s who we want to be. We want to be a defensive team. And if that’s what we we’re going to be we got to stop people. We can’t be trying to outscore people which we’re capable of doing. But we got to stop teams and win games that way.”
Speaking of which, Lu gets a little extra recognition, not for his stat line (17 points, 5 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals), but for doing a man’s job on Indiana’s Danny Granger (4-for-17 through three quarters and 8-for-23 overall).
Said Deng: “He’s such a great shooter. My mindset tonight was, I just didn’t want to lose him. Every time he took a shot, I was doing the best I could to challenge. I didn’t want to let him get any space.”
Additional kudos go to Kurt Thomas (18 rebounds), Carlos Boozer (14 points on 7-for-12 shooting) and the bench (34 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocked shots and a steal).
Oh, and a special thanks goes out to Keith Bogans for committing two quick fouls. Bogans left the game with 10:15 left in the first quarter and the game tied at 2-2. Bogans sat out the rest of the half and the Bulls were up by a dozen at the break.
I’m just sayin’.
It was a total team effort and the Bulls showed up in every category. Hence the season-low seven turnovers and the 46-24 advantage in points in the paint.
Now that the appetizers have been finished…bring on the Heat.