CHICAGO (AP) – For the second straight game, the Chicago Bulls struggled with the eight seed Indiana Pacers.
But also for the second straight game, Derrick Rose stole the show and scored over 30 points to lead the Bulls to victory.
Rose scored 36 points, Carlos Boozer added 17 points and 16 rebounds, and the top-seeded 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.
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 their 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.
The Pacers hung in even though they lost point guard Darren Collison to a sprained left ankle late in the first half.
Rose continued to play like an MVP candidate, 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 committed 22 turnovers.
Danny Granger led Indiana with 19 points, but Tyler Hansbrough struggled, finishing with just six points on 2-of-12 shooting after scoring 22 points in the opener.
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.
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.
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