Written by Tim Kreutzfeldt
@kjackmansports, facebook.com/jackmansports, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago 104 – Indiana 99
Although Indiana didn’t finish on top, they definitely didn’t go down the way everyone thought they would. Chicago never held a lead until 48 seconds to go in the fourth quarter.
Of course analysts give full credit to Derrick Rose for his 39 point performance—and for good reason; he quite literally “put da team in his back” during the final minutes of the fourth quarter and led the Bulls to victory. However, contrary to popular belief, he did not have the game of his life.
Rose had a miserable shooting night from three-point territory (0-9). Although two of these were three-quarters court heaves as time expired, most of the rest of his three-point attempts were ill-advised shots early in the shot clock. Thibodeau was not a fan of this, and had some words for his star during a few timeouts.
Rose’s saving grace was his tenacity driving to the hole. Excepting threes, Rose shot 10-14 from the field. He easily found holes in the Pacers’ frontcourt and used them to his advantage. He also got fouled at an alarming rate, and responded by shooting 19-21 from the free throw line.
Before the game, analysts mentioned that Carlos Boozer would play a pivotal role in leading the Bulls to success for the series. Yet, his contributions were muddled by foul trouble (including a frustrated foul on Tyler Hansbrough near the end of the game) and poor shot selection.
The true catalyst for Chicago down the stretch was Luol Deng, who made many key shots down the stretch to go along with a modest stat line (18 points on 7-13 shooting with 10 rebounds). Joakim Noah also had a double-double and 3 blocks to pick up for Boozer’s slack.
Still, the story of the game was Indiana’s impeccable shooting. Danny Granger and Tyler Hansbrough annihilated Thibodeau’s help-oriented defense by making jump shot after jump shot throughout the game. They frustrated Chicago into making silly fouls and if they made a few more free throws (they shot 64%) they could have escaped the Madhouse on Madison with a W.
The Pacers’ unexpectedly great production from Granger and Hansbrough was complemented by lights-out three-point shooting. They made 10 threes on 18 attempts, overpowering the Bulls’ 6 threes on 20 attempts on the other end.
Ultimately, Indiana had a fantastic shooting night that probably won’t be reproduced as the series rolls on, Thibs’ defense is still just as intimidating and effective as advertized, and Rose proved his worthiness of the MVP trophy he’ll almost certainly receive in the next few weeks.
One final note: early in the game, Indiana coach Frank Vogel mentioned to his players in the huddle that they are a better rebounding team than Chicago. While this comment was probably made to inspire motivation on the boards, it should be noted that his Pacers were promptly out-rebounded 34-49 by the East’s top seed (who rank second in rebounds per game on the season). Chicago also recorded 21 offensive rebounds (Noah had 8) compared to Indiana’s 13. Nice try, Vogel.