Game 5 Recap: Bulls 116, Pacers 89

Finally.

Finally the Bulls played like the Bulls.

I’m still not sure exactly what happened in Games 1-4.

Maybe they just needed the wakeup call they got in Game 4.

Maybe the Bulls were abducted by space aliens and replaced with android duplicates until right before Game 5.

Maybe we’ll never know.

Whatever the case, the Bulls pulled a switcheroo on the Pacers. Through the first four games, the Pacers were the aggressors. They were dictating the terms of the series with their intensity and (especially) their ultra-physical play. Last night, the Bulls became the Bullies.

Or, as Stacey King said, “Now the rabbit’s the one holding the gun.”

The hunter became the hunted. And the Pacers didn’t like it. Not one bit.

It’s kind of funny, too, considering all the hard and borderline dirty fouls Indiana dished out in this series. The Bulls never really complained about them, either. Even when Jeff Foster was dropping elbows on faces, Chicago coaches and players took the high ground, eschewing the “dirty” talk and describing the Pacers as a tough team playing hard.

Then, when the Bulls (finally) got physical back, Danny Granger took the low road.

Said Granger: “[Joakim Noah] pulled a cowardly move. He cheap-shotted a couple of my teammates, and one gets thrown out … The refs never catch what he did … it’s cowardly. And I’m going to say something about it. I wanted to say something about it all the way to the game was over. I just don’t think the game should be played that way. You can play hard and fight and battle, but when you start cheap-shotting people it gets out of hand.”

Granger was referring to a sequence in which Noah was jostling Josh McRoberts during the battle for a rebound. McRoberts said Noah elbowed him in the throat and, in retaliation, McRoberts threw a punch-like blow in Noah’s general direction. The blow whiffed, badly, but McRoberts was tossed anyway.

Said McRoberts: “I was trying to shove back to defend myself.”

Tom Thibodeau’s response? Whatever.

Said Thibs: “It’s just heat of the battle stuff.”

Added Noah: “I played dirty? Ok. I’m just trying to win basketball games, man. It’s the name of the game. I’m just out there trying to do what I gotta do. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to their team. The play hard as hell. They were competitive. I don’t have anything bad to say about them. Everybody saw what happened out there. Now you want to call me a dirty player? I don’t think I’ve ever been a dirty player. It is what it is. It’s ok.”

Granger really shouldn’t have been surprised at the turn of events. After all, the Pacers came into this series overmatched, and they made the first four games competitive by being as physical as possible. I wouldn’t call them the second coming of the Bad Boy Pistons or Pat Riley’s Knicks, but there was an awful lot of grabbing and hacking going on. And as we all know, if you mess with the Bulls, you just might get the horns.

And yeah, the Pacers got gored last night.

The Bulls controlled the game from the opening tip. The Pacers kept things close in the first half and then were utterly dominated in the second. Chicago outscored Indiana 62-43 over the final two quarters. The beating truly began thanks to an MVP-like stretch from Derrick Rose, who erupted out of the slump he was in during Games 3 and 4. He did it on offense. He did it on defense.

With 5:52 left in the third quarter and the Bulls leading 61-57, Rose dished to Taj Gibson for an 18-footer. On Chicago’s next possession, Rose drilled a three to push the lead to 66-57. On the other end, Rose made an amazing block on seven-footer Roy Hibbert. With 4:31 to go in the third, Rose nailed another three. Five seconds later, he stole the ball from Darren Collison, sprinted the other way, drew a foul from Tyler Hansbrough, and converted one of two free throws. Then, with 2:47 left in the quarter, Rose knocked down yet another three-pointer to push the lead to 75-60.

And the rout was on.

Now let’s look at that block on Hibbert.

Rose wasn’t the only slump buster. As a team, the Bulls pulled out of the dreadful offensive funk they were in. Well, everybody except Carlos Boozer, that is. (To wit: Boozer, who suffered a turf toe injury during the second quarter, finished with fewer points than Rasual Butler.)

Chicago literally blew the lid off the rim.

Luol Deng scored 24 points on 7-for-14 shooting, adding 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 steals for good measure. With his grandfather and sister watching from the stands, Joakim Noah had 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals. The bench added 36 points and 15 rebounds. Taj Gibson in particular delivered a strong performance (10 points and 7 boards) in relief of Boozer.

And Keith Bogans — yes, that Keith Bogans — went 5-for-7 from downtown and finished with 15 points. The Bulls are now 27-2 when Bogans scores at least 6 points.

Oh, and did I mention yet that Kyle “The Four-Inch Vertical” Korver dunked?

Well, he did. Korver dunked.

Yep. It was that kind of night for the Bulls.

They finished with an Effective Field Goal Percentage of 56.6 percent and an Offensive Rating of 124.4, easily their best marks of the series. Finally (there’s that word again) players were spaced correctly, and moving without the ball, and making smart passes. After averaging 18 turnovers per game for the first four games, the Bulls limited their miscues to 14 while forcing the Pacers into 21 turnovers, which turned into 34 points for Chicago. The Bulls also went 14-for-31 from beyond the arc.

Like I said, it was just that kind of night.

After the failed comeback in Game 4, Noah said this was a team that deals well with adversity. Well, he was right again, and now the Pacers get the summer off. Meanwhile, the Bulls await the winner of the Atlanta-Orlando series, which is now 3-2 in favor of the Hawks.

Said Rose: “Speechless right now. I really can’t believe it. It’s a great accomplishment. I’m happy for my teammates, happy for my coaching staff. They did a really great job.”

A tip of my hat and a firm handshake goes out to the Pacers, who gave the Bulls all they could handle and really could have won an additional game or two in the early going. I’m sure games against them next season will have an extra edge to them.

But that’s next season. The Bulls have more season to go this year.

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, BBR Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

28 Responses to Game 5 Recap: Bulls 116, Pacers 89

  1. Inception April 27, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    vintage Boozer in game 5…suffered an injury and got into foul trouble….the future looks bright for our starting PF

  2. lrygh12@yahoo.com'
    Luke April 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Before the game 4 loss, the bulls had won how many games in a row? they were due for a loss and needed it to reignite them. They were the only team in the league to not lose 3 games in a row this season, and their is a reason for that. They know how to come back after a loss, unlike some teams we may face later on (Miami).

    This series has only strengthened my confidence in a finals appearance

  3. hellajax@gmail.com'
    BULL4EVER April 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    So much for all that BS coming from those losers from Indy about how they totally matched up better with this Bulls team in Round 1 than they did with Boston, well yall got em and man did we mess yall up in 5 games, especially last night by a score of 116-89.This war is not yet even over because we still have to beat 3 more teams on our way to the title, and bring on Boston, Miami or L.A in the Finals (if L.A even makes it that far)I would have to say bring on Boston since they would be Chicago’s toughest opponent, but as far as the trash-talking bring on Miami in the East Finals and L.A in the Finals because these 2 have always been known for totally shooting their mouths off just about every other team on how we’re going to beat everybody and the 2 of us will meet in the Finals.GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Inception April 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    i’m torn….great closing game by CHI, but then a total contrast with BOOzer….the turf toe was the “icing on the cake”…going forward, the front line probably just got a little weaker (offensively speaking)…unless Gibson plays out of his mind, a finals appearance doesn’t appear likely.

  5. yomomma@hotmail.com'
    Scottie Pimpin April 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    i wish we could play indy again, just to beat on them a little more, they came out with physical play which is cool, but cried foul when we banged back, not cool.

    even though booz scored 2 points (what the hell is wrong with him anyways ?) we still ended up finishing them off mortal kombat style , im getting good vibes from this team.

  6. dssinger@law.gwu.edu'
    DS April 27, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    I just really can’t believe Granger would go there and call Noah a coward for his play. It says way more about Granger being a loud-mouth baby than anything about Jo.

    Let’s go over the facts. Jeff Foster received two flagrant fouls in one game (after video review — and which should have warranted an ejection had they been called properly at the time) and Josh McDonalds was ejected from a game for throwing a punch. The refs reviewed the play and confirmed that the ejection was the right call.

    And let’s not even get started with Dahntay Jones. ALL HE DOES is come in for 10 minutes to try to pick a fight with somebody. His team is OK with this because they know he’s not all that valuable as a player. Then when he makes a normal basketball play he beats his chest like he’s an all-star.

    I respect the Pacers energy and their depth, but they are a long way from being anything close to a contender.

  7. sethjsmole@yahoo.com'
    BigSether April 27, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Carlos Boozer is turning into the “offensive” version of Ben Wallace. Players earn their big money in the post and so far, Boozer has been embarrassing.

    On a side note, I’m going to miss Stacey King calling the games. It’s not really anything insightful to say, but he really does enhance my viewing from home experience. I guess a question to pose is this, who has had a bigger breakout season in Chicago? D Rose, or Stacey King?

  8. TBF April 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, DS…the Pacers contended with us for 4 out of 5 games. Had it not been for fast and furious comebacks, we could very easily be down 3 games to 2 by now. Don’t sell the Pacers short; they gave our team everything they wanted over the course of 5 games. So, I wouldn’t say they’re a long way from being a contender. I’m sure the Bulls are happy to get out of that series in 5.

    That said, Granger needs to can it already. He didn’t say anything to Foster when Foster was throwing elbows in our star’s face. Oh no, then it was totally acceptable because they’re “playing hard”. You know, if you want to play tough and borderline dirty, ok. It’s not like it’s never been seen before, for example, any team Pat Riley’s ever coached. But then if someone takes a shot back at you, grow a pair and don’t go running to mommy like a kid on the playground.

  9. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob April 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    “Finally” the Bulls played their game. Solid to shut-down defense, and ball movement offense. The spacing was excellent, everyone (except Boozer) was hitting their shots. In fact, sometimes the Bulls passed to often. It was definitely the best effort of this series and hopefully bodes well for the future series. I am very glad I recorded it and watched it this morning and avoided checking the score last night. Getting out of the first round is a monkey off our back, now the Bulls can get serious.

  10. ajleff@gmail.com'
    Leffty April 27, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Obviously it’s important to get a real complete win before moving into the second round, but the lack of Carlos Boozer in the paint has to be troubling. If the Magic top the Hawks and advance, they will be nearly impossible to beat if Boozer isn’t putting some pressure on Howard’s interior defense. Getting him tired/in foul trouble is key against that team, but Boozer is the only one who can do it. Two points on five shots like last night just won’t cut it. Check it out:

    http://sportstatistics.blogspot.com/2011/04/nba-playoffs-night-eleven.html

  11. jadamsmt@gmail.com'
    Gravity April 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    I like your recap, and I agree with your assessment that for most of the series the Pacers were walking closer to the line between physical and dirty than the Bulls, so please don’t take this critique the wrong way. That said, in this post you generally assert that the Bulls won because they became more physical/tough/borderline cheap (“bullies,” you call them). Then you describe Noah hitting McRoberts in the throat as something the Pacers say happened. You can’t tell how aware Noah is of where he’s hitting McRoberts, but you can clearly see in the video you posted that Noah hit McRoberts in the throat, and with a notable follow through. To recap: you describe the Pacers’ physicality as fact (“Jeff Foster was dropping elbows on faces”) and Noah’s as an allegation by opponents (“McRoberts said Noah elbowed him in the throat”). Speaking of cheap, this is a cheap rhetorical device: I wish you’d just own that Noah, in this instance, did something you would roundly condemn if it came from Jeff Foster. It doesn’t change your basic argument, and it may even support it.

  12. Jan April 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Hey do u happen to have that video of Kyle dunking? I cant find it and i really want to see it lol

  13. ryanflorio@gmail.com'
    Ryan April 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    We absolutely NEED Boozer to step up, especially if we play the Hawks and their strong front line. Then again, in the two games we beat the Hawks this year, Boozer was literally or figuratively absent and we still won. But still, we should not have to gut out a win DESPITE the poor play of our highest paid player.

  14. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage April 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm #

    Great win for the Bulls! I hope they can can carry the ball movement they had in this last game into the next series. That said, Boozer’s no show in the playoffs and now a supposed injury to help explain or provide an excuse for further poor play is concerning. Rose had turf toe last year and played through it without crying about it daily. Boozer needs to stop with the excuses and just start performing up to his pay grade. Otherwise, we are better off with Gibson playing big minutes. Sorry for the negativity after a win but Boozer’s no show in the playoffs is concerning considering that our level of competition is going to be a lot higher in the rounds to come.

  15. Inception April 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    @Savage – I’m not even sure Rose’s turf toe has disappeared….from what i read, it’s an injury that will stay with him for his career.

  16. hellajax@gmail.com'
    BULL4EVER April 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    Boozer needs to stop boozing like an alcoholic and start bruising like Chicago bruising everybody all season and dating all the way back to the 90′s, nuff said. GO BULLS!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. indydawgs03@yahoo.com'
    Martin April 27, 2011 at 7:23 pm #

    Noah has never been called a dirty play? I find that very hard to believe since 95% of what the guy does is shady. In game 1 Rose easily had 7 fouls and was called for 3.

    And for the comment from DS about Dahntay beating his chest…ever seen Noah? The guy runs up and down the court screaming and clapping his monkey hands any time he scores, draws a foul or blocks a shot. I think those are normal basketball plays. I have never not been able to watch a teambased solely on the looks of one player but Noah makes the Bulls nearly impossible to watch.

  18. The Rock April 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    One series at a time people. Cant have the same mentality we did going against Indiana, already talking about the ECF and finals. When as mentioned above, Indy could be up right now. The focus remains on Atlanta or Orlando, I’m sure after this series the Bulls will take the same approach, one game, one series at a time. Pacers brought it and they did the Bulls a favor by ‘waking’ them up and preparing them for the next series. My opinion is this Indiana series will be the hardest series they have these playoffs, I hope I’m right. Boozer needs to wake up, because we do need him unless Taj becomes consistent (which I think he will at one point in the future). But my goodness Boozer has been just an absolute disappointment so bad Utah probably feels embarrassed. Booze has until Monday…as for Granger, hes a nobody. A second tier player who can take his team to a 47-35, 1st round playoff exit in 5 or 6 game season.

  19. Handkuft@yahoo.com'
    GotNext April 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    If Granger wants to be mad at anyone it should Scalabrine’s mugshot in the 3rd….you know what I’m talking about

  20. inkybreath@gmail.com'
    inkybreath April 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I don’t see why people have a problem with Noah. Most teams have or wish they had an energy guy like Joakim (He is the basketball equivalent of AJ Pierzinski) … Think about the moment where they got tangled up, when Deng came over and moved Noah and Taj out of the fracas – both of them did not resist – they started clapping. That is their way to let off steam and I appreciate it. They focused on the crowd and got them involved and made positive energy out of it.

    I am not in the business of trying to govern every aspect of the player’s behavior. They came down on the complaining to officials and that worked well. We don’t need to go much further here.

    Let a freaking human being have a personality for goodness sake.

  21. TBF April 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Hey Martin, why don’t you head back to the Pacers board with all that sore loser business kthx.

  22. contrerasadvocates@yahoo.com'
    Savage April 27, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Martin, I understand your frustration with the Bulls were a good team an you don’t like us. If your a Pacers fan I can see how Noah got under your skin. You don’t need to get personal about it though. The Pacers put way more hard fouls on the Bulls and Noah was just stepping up to the call for toughness on our team. If you want to hate a guy for doing his job then that’s on you. I know us Bulls fans love to see Noah playing like he did because it usually means we win the game.

  23. dssinger@law.gwu.edu'
    DS April 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    Martin,

    Fair point. I can see how Noah could be obnoxious to fans of other teams. The point I was trying to make about Dahntay is that he is solely used as a pest and to pick fights with his opponents. It’s one thing to bring energy off the bench, but he crosses the line a lot — particularly for somebody who doesn’t have a lot of talent to back it up.

    And to TBF,

    I stick by claim that the Pacers are nowhere near being a contender. Everybody is making noise about how great a job Vogel did (e.g. Steve Kerr in the broadcast) — but what exactly did he do? He went 20-18 in the regular season, and 1-4 in the playoffs. Sure, it’s better than O’Brien, but still far from being a contender.

  24. Inception April 28, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    Vogel comes off very phony to me…he has that constant smirk on his face…he reminds me of a used car salesman ready to pull a fast one on you…bottom-line, don’t ever trust a guy with a permanent smirk on his face.

  25. Tae April 28, 2011 at 3:33 am #

    Taj Gibson had turf toe for the last month of the regular season and he played fine.

  26. bob.edwards47@yahoo.com'
    BoppinBob April 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm #

    @Martin, it is all POV. If Noah became a Pacer you would love him. I remember when D Rodman played for the Pistons, Bulls fans hated him, when he came to Chicago to help with the second 3-peat he became a Chicago hero.

    I feel your pain, the Pacers played 4 great games and the Bulls played poorly and still won 3 out of 4. The Pacers did slow down Rose, somewhat, but how did that work out?

  27. Dude April 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Finally some more minutes for the bench guys. I don’t get it, does Thibs need a lead or foul trouble to go to his bench, one of our greatest strengths?… I love Asik and I’m glad he got some more minutes, he holds his own against anyone defensively out on the floor. More than holds his own, I think he frusturates other starting bigs and can shut down other teams’ big subs. When Noah comes back in there normally hasn’t been any momentum swing in play on the boards or on D. But why the sudden switch to Asik from Thomas? Big Sexy hurting? I guess they both bring very different things and it’s just a balancing act depending on how the game’s going, but I think we’re going to need Asik in the games to come and he should be out there like in game 5.

  28. Inception April 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    Asik will get plenty of playing time if CHI faces ORL.

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