Rose's 36 points help Bulls edge Pacers
Derrick Rose scored 36 points, Carlos Boozer added 17 points and 16 rebounds, and the top-seeded Chicago Bulls pulled out another dramatic victory over Indiana, beating the Pacers 96-90 on Monday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
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Rose scored eight points over the final 4 minutes. Kyle Korver nailed another big 3-pointer to make it 90-85 with just over a minute left after hitting the tiebreaker in the opener.
A.J. Price hit three free throws with 23.4 seconds left after being fouled by Rose to cut the lead to 90-88. Luol Deng quickly answered with two of his own to make it a four-point game. Ronnie Brewer added two more after a missed 3 by Mike Dunleavy, and Chicago, which made its last 16 free throws, hung on to go up 2-0.
It hasn't been easy for the Bulls after they stormed through the regular season with a league-best 62-20 record.
''Our play has to get better,'' Rose said. ''We have to be more smooth, more efficient, especially on the defensive end where we have to try a lot harder. But I feel like we're going to get things together pretty quickly.''
The Pacers hung in even though they lost point guard Darren Collison to a sprained left ankle going for a layup late in the first half.
Rose continued to play like an MVP candidate even though he had six of his team's 22 turnovers, following up a career playoff-best 39-point performance with another big outing. He didn't get to the line quite as much this time but made the most of his opportunities, hitting 12 of 13 free throws after making 19 of 21 in the opener.
Boozer came up big after a quiet Game 1. The Bulls dominated the boards, outrebounding Indiana 57-33, and came away with the win even though they shot just 38.6 percent and had trouble hanging onto the ball.
Indiana's T.J. Ford provided the shot of the game at the end of the third quarter when he banked in an 65-foot heave at the buzzer that tied it at 67, sending loud oohs and aahs through the arena.
But the Bulls let out a big sigh of relief in the end. They realize there's plenty of room for improvement, but they're still in control.
For that, they can thank Rose.
''He made big play after big play,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''He kept attacking the basket. They put a lot of pressure on him. He made the right play. He made the right decisions. He got to the line again. We have to do a better job taking care of the ball. That caused a lot of problems for us.''
One encouraging sign was the emergence of Boozer after foul trouble helped limit him in Game 1.
''The big thing is that he was more aggressive because he was not in foul trouble,'' Thibodeau said. ''His rebounding was great. He got off to a good start offensively. We should have searched him out more in the post in the second half.''
NOTES: Bulls G Ronnie Brewer said he doesn't expect his sprained left thumb to heal until after the season and will likely play with pain the rest of the way. ''It's not like it's just going to heal after a day or two,'' he said. ''We practice every day. It's not like I'm sitting out or taking plays off.'' ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Granger comparing Rose to a ''crazy stalker ex-girlfriend'' who doesn't go away: ''I certainly don't see it that way. I guess beauty's in the eye of the beholder. He looks pretty good to me.'' ... Former Bull Cliff Levingston presented the game ball before the opening tip. ... Fans cheered Bears coach Lovie Smith when he was shown during a timeout late in the first quarter. ... The Pacers have not won a playoff game since Game 3 of their first-round series with New Jersey in 2006. They dropped the next three games to bow out in six and did not get back to the postseason until this year.