Drink: Sparkling Water with Cranberry Juice
This was a monumental effort to just come back and force overtime. To be on the second of a road back-to-back, down by double digits most of the game, and find something in you to make a fourth quarter comeback shows heart. It also shows how Indiana could be red hot to start the game, and completely lose all semblance of their shot in the fourth.
The Bulls started this contest with solid D, but not much scoring, which is what you expect when you are starting with Kurt Thomas and Keith Bogans. I am still not sure (and certainly not on board) on why Danny Glover is getting the nod over Taj Gibson, while Carlos Boozer is recovering from his ankle injury. However, when Taj did come in, his shot was not dropping (to put it nicely), as if to prove Thibs’ point.
The Bulls lacked energy to start this one. The Pacers were out-hustling the Bulls, rotating the ball well, and, after a few minutes, their shots starting falling. With their superior energy, the Pacers were rebounding the ball much better than the Bulls, ending the game with a 50-46 edge (and that was with a fourth in which the Bulls dominated the glass). The Bulls are known for getting out there and giving it their all, so when that is not happening, it is going to be a long night. Indiana’s energy was led by Tyler Hansbrough, who has been on fire as of late (which is odd because you figured he would have just gone the way of Brian Cardinal).
Not having to do anything with the result, but it was fun to watch the match-up of two very non-NBA looking players in Omer Asik vs Jeff Foster. While Omer is just keeping with the tradition of goofy looking European players in the league, Foster is taking it back to the 50s with a haircut you can set your watch to. It is said that Foster does not like that new shot clock idea the NBA is throwing around, and thinks the three point shot is just a fad. He also looked to get screwed on many calls, which his goofy looking player in arms can more than relate to. It was also neat to see Jomer getting some playing time in this game.
As mentioned above, the Pacers looked like they were going to walk away with this one. Even when the Bulls started the third with improved energy and were poised to take it back, it all fell apart. Down by nine, Bogans got clipped by a pick that he thought Roy Hibbert may have put a little shoulder into, so Bogans did the logical thing – he ran over and pushed Hibbert into Joakim Noah. The flagrant foul was called and in no time, the Pacers were up 20. For a little salt in the wound, in this quarter Derrick Rose picked up his fourth personal foul, and Uint: DJ TrainWreck played out much of the period. All hope seemed to be lost.
Then Derrick Rose came back from an extended break, with the Bulls down 95-80 in the fourth. And as he has done in the past, Derrick Rose took this game over in the fourth. While he took way too many threes, he also drove to the lane again, and again, and again, and again. He made many of his drives and also went to the line a whole bunch. This effort, combined with an incredibly flat Pacers’ offense, led to Rose on the free throw line after getting fouled on a desperation three with 1.2 seconds left. Rose needed to nail all three in order to send it to overtime. And (unlike the Clippers game earlier in the season, and the NCAA Championship Game back when he was with Memphis) Rose stepped up and hit his free throws.
Yet, when you score 19 of your 42 points in eight minutes in the fourth and you are on the second of a road back-to-back, you tend to lose some energy. Rose looked spent in the extra frame. It also did not help that he got mugged multiple times to open up overtime and did not get any calls. But, yeah, Bulls dropped this one with little offense in overtime. With the win, the Bulls would have been the first team in NBA history to sweep their division, which would have been swell. More importantly, a win would have put them up 1.5 games over the Celtics. As it stands, the Bulls still maintain their Eastern Conference lead by .5 game (and 2.5 ahead of the super hot Heat), and they get some much needed rest, with no games the rest of the weekend.