Derrick Rose and Luol Deng combined to hit five three-point shots and the Bulls dominated the boards in a 28-7 third quarter run that blew open a close game and locked down a 92-72 win over the Indiana Pacers in Chicago Monday night.
In a game that saw 14 lead changes and a one-point Pacers lead coming out of halftime, Chicago used the third to turn on both their defensive muscle and their offensive aggressiveness, led by Rose, who had only two points in the first half. Rose scored 11 points and contributed five assists in the pivotal quarter and tied up Darren Collison on the defensive end as well, shutting out the Pacer point guard in 31 minutes. Collison hadn't laid a goose egg in the scoring column since Jan. 2, 2010, and had never done it in a game where he played more than 14 minutes.
The Bulls also controlled the glass in the quarter, outrebounding the Pacers in the quarter 18-7. Chicago grabbed more of its own misses (six) then the Pacers did (four) in the quarter, with Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and Ronnie Brewer all contributing. Brewer was part of sparking the huge third quarter run when he knocked down a long two-point shot that changed the lead for the last time and followed it up on the next possession with a driving layup to really start the scoring burst for Chicago.
Brewer played significant minutes due to an injury in the game's first minute to Richard Hamilton. Hamilton injured his shoulder when Paul George ran him off a Roy Hibbert screen and Hamilton's whole arm and shoulder got stuck between the two Pacers, like getting it caught in a heavy set of doors closing. Hamilton's arm hung as he gamely went up and down the court for three more possessions, two by his own team, before the ball mercifully went out of bounds and got him out of the game.
The Bulls ended the third quarter having dominated to the tune of a 33-13 effort, giving them a 19-point advantage they would not give up. Typical Bulls workhorse Deng led the Bulls with 20 points for the game and when the clean up crew for the Bulls yielded a 10-1 run to "cut" the lead to 13 with about 3-1/2 minutes left, an angry Tom Thibodeau inserted Deng and Noah (9 points, 17 rebounds) back in to close it out. A 9-2 run and return to mop-up duty did just that.
At Blog-A-Bull, your friendly BullsBlogger points to the glass as the critical ingredient in the winning recipe for Chicago:
Rose was the leader of that run, of course, but it wasn't any kind of statement game from him as he 'only' finished with 13 points and 9 assists. A lot of the credit for tonight goes that other Bulls standby: rebounding dominance. The Bulls had yet another whopping +40% OReb% performance, and Joakim Noah (backing up his talk) was an absolute terror for the more ground-bound Pacers big men, credited with only 4 but seemingly in on every random tip or swat out of a Pacer defender. They also took care of the defensive glass as well in getting over 85% of those chances (Noah with 13), so for a team like the Pacers who's known for their muscle/goonery, and 5th in Oreb% themselves, the Bulls frontcourt really took it to them.
Meanwhile, at Indy Cornrows, Nathan S. breaks down the breakdown in the Pacers effort:
When Chicago began to hit shots, Indiana lost their composure in a big way, speeding up their offense and getting away from the ball movement that had resulted in them getting a solid number of assists. It seemed Indiana got antsy when the Bulls pulled away and they weren't able to respond with anything. They knew all too well that if they were going to get behind Chicago by double digits, it was going to be incredibly difficult to turn the game around, and they played with the frantic sense that they had to avoid that rather than getting the game back on track.