Midway through the first quarter, Chicago Bulls rookie sensation, Derrick Rose, splashed a 3-ball to extend the Bulls' early lead. After the net snapped, Slick Leonard remarked, "If he (Rose) hits that shot, he's gonna be murder."
Well, consider the Pacers victims then because Rose went on to rub out the Pacers and lead the Bulls to a home W, 104-91.
The Pacers can rightfully complain about the officiating because there didn't seem to be an equal redistribution of whistles at both ends of the court, especially around the hoop. But any player or coach for Indiana still has to look themselves in the mirror and realize where the blame really lies.
Turnovers all game and poor execution down the stretch were the real reasons the Pacers went quietly into the night. Thanks to a strong effort on the offensive glass, the Pacers were able to fight their way into position to win the game in the fourth quarter.
Once in position, though, no one could step up and take possession of the W. Nope, the heroes tonight were wearing white with red and black trim. Rose and Andres Nocioni determined the outcome of this game. The Pacers tried, but just couldn't get it done.
So what went wrong down the stretch?
Well, coming out of a timeout with 5:18 left in the game and the Bulls up eight, Danny Granger took a stagnant, contested jumper which missed badly. The Bulls ran out with the rebound as Rose pushed it ahead to Larry Hughes behind the defense. With the Bulls' lead now up to ten, Danny missed a three on the next possession. Rose leaked out ahead of the transition D, caught a long pass and threw down a sweet two-handed finish to push the lead to 12. There was still 4:30 left but the game was over. The Bulls would have to give it away from there and that didn't happen.
Over the next 2:30, the Pacers scored one free throw and on five consecutive possessions gurgled up a Granger turnover, T.J. Ford missed jumper, Marquis Daniels missed jumper, Quisy turnover and Granger missed 3-ball. And believe me, the energy and shots were even uglier than it reads.
While Rose was in full bloom for the Bulls, the Pacers simply withered on the vine.
- After falling behind in the first quarter, the Pacers battled back. In the second quarter, T.J. Ford led an assault on the bucket, as the Pacers took the ball to the rim with purpose and started scoring buckets and earning fouls.
- Ford struggled in the second half taking the same approach, though. Several times T.J. was caught in no man's land around the bucket. Well, no short man's land, because he was caught in between a shot and a pass and ended up throwing up some wild attempts at the hoop. He was never the same after getting jacked in the head in the third quarter. Of course, no foul was call even though it staggered T.J. He picked up a technical after expressing his disgust.
- Andres Nocioni must love playing the Pacers. He always seems to play like a monster whenever the blue and gold come to town. Noc finished with 20 and 11, including a couple of threes and several strong drives to the bucket.
- As mentioned above, Derrick Rose was spectacular running the show for the Bulls. They run almost everything through him and he makes it look easy. He finished with 23 points (including three murderous 3-balls), 8 assists and 3 long balls. He also had a sick baseline move to the hoop for a dunk. Granger had to meet him at the summit to force him to earn the two at the line (which he did, natch).
- The Pacers wasted three double-doubles from Granger, Troy Murphy and Rasho Nesterovic.
- At halftime we learned that Danny Granger was the only Pacer to name all of the members of Gary, Indiana's own Jackson Five. Remarkably, all the players were able to pull out Tito along with Michael. Apparently, Tito is the Ringo Starr of the Jackson Five.