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NBA Playoffs: The Bulls manage to hold on

Apr 19, 2011, 1:10 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls - Game Two Getty Images

The Indiana Pacers were able to put up yet another great fight against the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, but they were once again left with nothing to show for their valiant effort.

In game one of the series, the Pacers took the Bulls down to the wire because of their sharp jump shooting. The Pacers didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well from outside as they did in game one, but their defense was able to frustrate the Bulls for long stretches of the game.

On paper, Derrick Rose‘s final line doesn’t look much different than it did in game one, as he finished with an impressive 36 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists. But the Pacers’ decision to guard Rose with bigger defenders, particularly Paul George, forced Rose to work much harder for his points than he did in game one, and he required 25 shots and 13 free throw attemtps to get his ponits. In Game one, Rose got to the rim or the line at will, only made one shot from outside of 15 feet, and only turned the ball over three times. In game two, 10 of Rose’s 36 points came on jumpers, and he turned the ball over six times.

Indiana caught a seriously bad break when Darren Collison went down with an injury in the first half and subsequently missed the rest of the game. Sophomore guard A.J. Price did a decent job filling in for Collison, but he’s not the same caliber of player, and the Pacers were outscored by 12 points with Collison off the floor.

Fortunately for Chicago, Carlos Boozer showed up in game two. He was in the paint and making baskets from all angles from both hands, was a big part of Chicago’s dominating performance on the offensive glass (Chicago had 20 offensive rebounds to Indiana’s 24 defensive rebounds), and was much better on defense. However, the rest of the Bulls’ supporting cast didn’t shoot particularly well from outside, and Joakim Noah couldn’t buy a basket around the rim. Because of that, the Bulls’ offense was often stagnant on Monday, and the team finished with more turnovers than assists.

Despite the Bulls’ offensive issues, they were able to pull out a win thanks to a dominant size advantage and some timely plays down the stretch, and a win is a win in the playoffs. There’s a reason why teams jockey for home-court advantage all season long: even though the Pacers performed well beyond all possible expectations in Chicago, they are still returning to Indiana with no wins, and if they lose one more game, their season is all but over. The Pacers should be encouraged by their play in the first two games, but they will need to do just a little bit more if they want to avoid elimination.

  1. ibleedaquaorange - Apr 19, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    That phantom Hibbert offensive foul was an absolute disgrace. Chicago has been very fortunate.

    • tibbs7 - Apr 19, 2011 at 7:57 AM

      Then let’s talk about AJ Price grabbing Rose’s arm on that 3 point attempt just a bit later and getting the call.
      Just one of many.

    • goldkj - Apr 19, 2011 at 3:01 PM

      First of all, Hibbert traveled on that play. And did you see the 2 Noah blocked shots that were called fouls in the 4th qtr? What about the call on Rose that gave the Pacers 3 FT’s? The officiating was far from one sided.

  2. liltmac2003 - Apr 19, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Some critics might argue and say if the Bulls are struggling to beat a 8th seeded team, than it’ll be near impossible for them to reach the Finals, let alone the Conference Finals.

    But they are forgetting one thing.

    The Bulls are not playing good basketball and they are still winning. That is a sign of a good team. Being able to pull of the W on a somewhat bad night.

    • mytthor - Apr 19, 2011 at 4:43 AM

      It’s also a sign of a good team to not have back to back bad nights against an inferior team. Especially one that prides itself on its effort, like the Bulls. Not saying they don’t have a chance still but finding a silver lining doesn’t mean there’s no cloud.

      • helinhater - Apr 19, 2011 at 8:58 AM

        Aside from the fact that 90% of intelligent basketball fans would take the Pacers roster over the Hawks…and Magic minus Dwight Howard…

        Aside from the fact this is a sub .500 team that endured injuries and their coach being fired, which probably had a larger effect on their record than we realize…

        The Bulls have still won.

        Now, you can nitpick and say its an inferior team and that’s possible…Or you can view it as a talented, young team that is finally hitting its stride under an interim coach who got the job January 30th…

        You can call them bad nights – but the difference is, when the Heat couldnt beat the league’s best, everyone said “Well at least they beat the crappy teams.”

        Well, the Bulls have taken down every top team in the league over the course of the season…AND they’re beating the “inferior” teams they have to play.

        There will always be a cloud in the NBA playoffs. I’ve never seen a team win a title in sunny weather.

        So call me crazy for thinking the challenge in Round 1 (which is ultimately meaningless because the Bulls will close it out in Indiana) is actually a good thing for this team going forward.

  3. gmsingh - Apr 19, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    The officiating was just plain bad, and made me wonder if the fix was in to try and let the Pacers back in the series so the NBA could make more money by having more games to show on TV.

  4. pff - Apr 19, 2011 at 10:56 AM

    there were B2B awful calls toward the end of this game…again. I am not a fan of either team but that offensive foul call on Hibbert followed by the non-call on Boozer on the next possession were killers. what is going on with the bad ref work this season?? first the ncaa tourney and now the nba playoffs?

  5. chitownbulls - Apr 19, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    The offensive production for Chicago has been an issue all season long. I watch all the games and believe me when I tell you that they go cold for loooong stretches. I’m not comfortable with anyones jumper, including Rose’s (he always manages, to my astonishment to hit the MUST haves though!). Its not unheard of for Booz and Noah to both miss at least 2-3 layups a game… Points are tough to come by and they need to wake up…

    They have been in close battles all season with sub .500 teams. They play down to the level of their competition and the problem is magnified if they don’t hit shots early. I honestly don’t see them having these kinds of games against Miami, Boston, Lakers, etc.

    Thibs focuses on defense, but they will only go so far w/o reliable offense outside of Rose.

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