The Chicago Bulls are on the verge of sweeping the Indiana
Pacers, even though they haven’t looked all that dominant.
The Bulls have won the first three hard-fought games by a
combined 15 points, wrapping things up in the final moments each
time. The Bulls could end the series Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse
and rest up for the second round.
It’s been a frustrating run for the scrappy Pacers. Indiana lost
double-digit leads in the first two games, then squandered a
five-point advantage in the fourth quarter Thursday before losing
88-84 after a late layup by Derrick Rose.
”I felt like it was right there, but it just didn’t happen,”
Pacers guard Darren Collison said. ”It’s kind of tough, this
happening three games in a row.”
Indiana now wants to salvage its pride.
”We need at least one win in this to be respectable and build
on it,” Pacers forward Danny Granger said.
Rose said it’s good that the Bulls have had to fight through
challenges in each game.
”We’re pretty good,” he said. ”We’ve been winning games and
we didn’t even play our best basketball yet. We’ve been finding
ways to win. I think these games are going to help us in the long
Rose averaged 37.5 points in the first two games of the series,
but he was held to 23 points on 4-for-18 shooting in Game 3 as Paul
George and Dahntay Jones brought a physical edge to the Pacers’
Rose said Jones made his job much more difficult.
”It changed the game,” he said. ”That’s what we don’t want to
happen – guys coming off the bench to change the whole game, and
that’s what he did.”
In the third quarter of Game 3, Rose drove to the hoop, and
Indiana center Jeff Foster caught him with an elbow to the head
that knocked him off balance. He took exception, and the two had to
Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel said it was just a hard
”I think he just plays hard,” he said. ”I don’t think it was
just one play. He hits people on every play.”
Rose expects more of the same treatment on Saturday.
”It’s basketball,” he said. ”You’re going to get hit. You’ve
just got to be prepared for it. They’re trying to play a rough
game. If anything, I’m used to it. My teammates have got my
Rose said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has kept the team focused on
basketball and not the hits.
”He’s been doing a good job making sure we don’t do anything
foolish out there, saying we’re going to pay them back by making
the free throws,” Rose said. ”We’re trying to do something
special, and that something special is bigger than any technical
Bulls center Joakim Noah, who had 11 points, 10 rebounds and
four blocks in Game 3, said the Pacers are running out of
”There’s a reason they’re playing like that,” he said.
”They’ve got to do something.”
Noah said he hopes the Pacers don’t change their physical
”It’s good,” he said. ”It gets us going. They should keep
The Pacers have had no answer for Kyle Korver. The veteran
shooter has drained 7 of 8 3-pointers in the series and made
critical long-range shots in all three games. He scored 10 points
in the final quarter of Game 3, and played a role in Rose’s crucial
”Korver killed us in the fourth,” Vogel said. ”He even killed
us on that last play when we couldn’t leave him to help.”
Rose said he trusts Korver, who was signed from Utah before the
season along with Carlos Boozer.
”He’s knocking down shots,” Rose said. ”If he’s open, we
don’t care how far away he is from the basket, we tell him to
shoot. His chances are better than ours.”
While Chicago has been strong in the fourth quarter throughout
the series, the Pacers have fallen apart at winning time. Granger,
who leads the Pacers with 21.3 points per game in the series, said
the team’s failure to execute late in Game 3 is another example of
youth becoming an issue at the worst possible time.
”This is part of lack of ball movement and inexperience,” he
said. ”We didn’t have that many good looks and we didn’t hit very
Chicago’s defense also hounded the Pacers, holding them to 38
percent shooting in Game 3. The Pacers made just 8 of 23 shots in
the fourth quarter.
”I would put it on defense,” Vogel said. ”Our guys are a good
offensive team. They (the Bulls) just step up and make big
Vogel was pleased with the way his team played in Game 3, but
disappointed that there was no tangible reward.
”We competed at a high level and deserved to win,” he said.
”I know close doesn’t count, but our guys fought.”
Thibodeau said he expects the Bulls to be prepared on
”I think we have a tough, hard-nosed team,” he said. ”We know
that we still have a long way to go.”