INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Just like a broken record, the Chicago Bulls struggled with the Indiana Pacers for most of the game, but pulled away down the stretch and won.
Derrick Rose scored 23 points, including the go-ahead layup with 17.8 seconds left, to help the Chicago Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 88-84 on Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead in their first-round series.
Rose’s late basket was his only field goal in the second half. He made just 4 of 18 shots as he was blanketed, and at times pummeled, by Indiana’s Paul George and Dahntay Jones. He made up for it by making 13 of 15 free throws. Rose averaged 37.5 points in the first two games of the series.
Luol Deng had 21 points and Kyle Korver added 12 for the Bulls.
Indiana’s Danny Granger had a chance to win it at the end, but he missed a 3-pointer in the closing seconds. He led the Pacers with 21 points.
Rose, guarded by Jones, drove left for a layup with 17.8 seconds remaining to give the Bulls an 86-84 lead and spark “MVP!” chants from the thousands of Bulls fans who made the 3-hour drive.
The Pacers went for the win, but Granger’s 3-pointer was off, and Chicago’s Ronnie Brewer rebounded. He was fouled, then made two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
The Pacers, who lost double-digit leads in both of the first two games, led by five points in the fourth quarter on Thursday and couldn’t hold on.
Indiana took a 68-65 lead on a layup by Jones with just over 10 minutes to play. His fadeaway jumper over Korver bumped Indiana’s lead to 70-65.
Rose tied the game with two free throws, then gave the Bulls a 72-70 lead with two free throws after he drove and drew Indiana center Roy Hibbert’s fifth foul. Korver followed with a 3-pointer to push Chicago’s lead to 75-70 with 7 minutes to go.
Indiana closed within 75-74, but Korver struck again with a 3 to increase Chicago’s lead to 78-74 with six minutes left. A baseline jumper by Granger tied the score at 84 with 1:42 remaining to set up the frantic ending.
The Pacers went up 46-45 early in the second half on two free throws by George. A layup by Darren Collison put Indiana up 50-47 as he showed no ill effects after spraining his left ankle in Game 2 on Monday.
Joakim Noah, Chicago’s best interior defender, picked up his fourth foul with 3:01 left in the third quarter.
Rose was fouled by Jones on a 3-pointer with 1:28 left in the third quarter, and made all three free throws to put the Bulls ahead 63-59. The Pacers could have taken the lead at the end of the third quarter, but A.J. Price’s short jumper bounced off the rim, and the Bulls led 65-64.
-Former Pacer Reggie Miller said he remembers the early 1990s when his team would host the Bulls at Market Square Arena and the crowd would be about 60 percent Bulls fans. He said that changed when the Pacers proved to be legitimate Eastern Conference contenders.
-Noting Chicago’s history of traveling in large numbers, Pacers coach Frank Vogel asked the fans to support the team, joking that metal detectors would keep Bulls fans out of the building.
-The game was a sellout, and Indiana had a clear advantage in crowd support. Indiana, which was last in the league in attendance during the regular season, had just six sellouts.
-Rev. Jesse Jackson attended the game to support the Bulls. He stood along the baseline in pregame warmups, and even chatted with Rose for a few moments.
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