The defense was miles better and the Bulls dominated the glass again, but couldn't take care of the basketball or finish well at the rim. All of this made their 96-90 win over the Pacers to take a 2-0 series lead tougher than it had to be.
The Bulls took a 2-0 series lead in the first round over the Pacers with the 96-90 win at the extremely pumped United Center with impenetrable defense and dominant rebounding. But Indy's defense and aggressiveness prevented the Bulls from running away with the game to force a 48-minute affair, continuing -- Jeff Fogle noted -- a pattern since late March of not dominating bad teams when they should (Hoopdata).
I don't know if Frank Vogel spiked his team's food or snuck something in their gatorade, but the way the Pacers have competed this series against the team that finished with the best record in the regular season is something the franchise should be proud about.
- The bigs need to dunk more. This is getting ridiculous. The Bulls were 15-for-36 (41.7%) at the rim. If not for the 27-for-34 (79.5%) at the line for an efficient usage of the highly efficient 41.5% FTR, we hear a lot more about these bigs going up to the basket like pussies with the ball in their hand.
The Bulls were 13-for-31 (41.9%) on layups with only three dunks on the game (CBSSports.com). On layups, Carlos Boozer was 4-for-6 with zero dunks and Joakim Noah was 0-for-6 with one dunk. The dunk makes the contact more noticeable to the ref, especially on the misses.
- The Clutch Bot Derrick Rose meme has been activated, Mike Prada notes (SBNation.com). In the final 6:19 of the game, Rose scored 11 points on 3-for-4 from the floor and a perfect 5-for-5 at the line. "What does it say about a player who scores 36 points, grabs eight rebounds and gets eight assists, even though most smart people agree that he was well-defended? It says he's Derrick Rose," Prada wrote. "Say what you want about the overwhelmingly annoying Rose lovefest that has infested our brains this season, but recently, Rose has backed it up in a big way. The Pacers made major adjustments after Rose torched them in Game 1, guarding him with taller and more athletic rookie Paul George for most of the game and sending traps to get the ball out of his hands -- and Rose still led the Bulls to victory."
There's no question that Rose's game was full of blunders, but, Prada later added, " in the end, there aren't too many people who can drop 36-8-6 and still make you feel like they were contained." Scoring or assisting 50 of the team's 96 points was the 'containment':
- The game was kinda' boring and even my well-grounded-iness was never concerned. I was done with this game pretty early. Apparently, the boys in the TNT truck were prematurely done with it as well (h/t: Alex Kennedy):
- Rebounding, rebounding, rebounding! Rose makes for great narrative. Yes, in "both games the Chicago offense sputtered," Royce Young noted, but take away "the work on the glass in both these games, the Bulls are down 0-2. There's no doubt." (Eye on Basketball)
Booz led the Bulls with 16 rebounds (five offensive), followed by Jaokim Noah's 10 (six offensive), Rose's eight, and Luol Deng's six (three offensive). Indy's Game 2-co-leading rebounders Tyler Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts with six. The 7-foot-3 starting center, Roy Hibbert, had four -- for which, Young added, "there's really no good excuse," despite only playing 21 minutes.
"In the third quarter alone, Chicago out-rebounded the Pacers 16-7, getting as many offensive rebounds in those 12 minutes (7) as Pacers did total rebounds," Jared Wade noted (8 Points 9 Seconds)
Young later continued: "When they go back and review what went right and what went wrong in Games 1 and 2, the coaching staff may spend an hour punching the wall because of rebounding. To get beat largely because you couldn't recover a couple extra misses has to be about as frustrating a thing as there is."
- Darren Collison's injury is huge. The Pacers were up 43-34 when Collison left the game with a sprained ankle in the second quarter. They were outscored 62-47 over the rest of the game.
"According to data from NBA.com's Statscube tool, the Pacers have been excellent in this series when Collison is on the court," Tom Ziller found (SBNation.com). "In 49 minutes with Collison on the court, the Pacers have a +6.9 efficiency differential, with a strong 109 offensive rating and very good 102 defensive rating. In 47 minutes with Collison on the bench (or in the locker room, as it were), the Pacers have an efficiency differential of -16.7. That's obviously a massive swing."
- Weak finishing and FT bricking ruined what could've been a monster game for Boozer. He was very effective, no doubt. He scored 17 points on 6-for-11 to go with the dominant rebounding and about as good a defense as you can expect -- though Collison abused him early on the pick n' roll. He didn't sag off his man too far to maintain rebounding positioning, rotated very well with Noah, and committed only three fouls.
It's great that he only took three shots from at least 10 feet out, but was only 3-for-7 at the rim and 5-for-9 on FTs. Solution: dunk the damn ball!
- Indy's big were hidden by better defense. Hanbrough (six points on 2-for-12 in 40 minutes) was useless. Hibbert (eight points on 3-for-7) was better when Noah was rotated away from him. Josh McRoberts was awkward (six points on 3-for-9, three assists). Jeff Foster (nine points on 4-for-5) had some fun with Booz when he was fresh and Booz was on the tail-end of long shifts.
- Deng limited Danny Granger's (19 points on 7-for-14, 0-for-2 on 3s) long-range shots. Granger was on, but was so well denied by Deng on the outside that he couldn't get the touches Indy wanted. Deng (14 points, three steals) used a lot of energy on defense and needed to rest on offense -- and it showed a bit.
He shot terrible 3-for-13 shooting -- 1-for-5 at the rim, 1-for-3 on 3s. He kept pushing the issue by slashing hard and went 7-for-8 at the line.
- Solution for Noah's four points on 2-for-10: DUNK MORE! He had six offensive rebounds, zero layups, and one putback dunk. He caught his own rebounds because there were tip-in attempts that should've been putback dunks. Why is this becoming so damn difficult?
His handles on the court are allowing for Rose, Boozer, and Deng to move much more often off the ball because he's such a great passer. (His four turnovers were mostly getting stripped, which Thibs addressed.) His first assist to Booz was one of my favorite plays of the night -- because I'm a nerd:
- Keith Bogans (three points on 1-for-5, 1-for-3 on 3s, one steal in 19 minutes) deserves some credit. A bad shooting night, but Indy was hell-bent on getting Paul George (six points on 2-for-7) going without Collison in the game. George scored two points on 1-for-2 shooting and turned the ball over three times (including two shot clock violations) with Bogans on the floor in the third quarter. Huge shift to contain the Pacers after halftime during a disastrous Bulls quarter.
- That said, huge hustle game for George that could expend more Bulls energy in Indy. The rookie had 18 deflections, according to Vogel, with four rebounds, four blocks, and three steals in 35 minutes (h/t: Wade).
He had a huge block early on a Rose break that displayed some great hustle:
- Ronnie Brewer (four points on 1-for-3, three rebounds, three assists, two turnovers) had an odd game. The energy was huge, but so were the mistakes. He made extremely smart second passes, but isn't dribbling well with only one available hand. He had no steals because it was clear his hands were limited. That said, he's still the best all-around perimeter defender on the team and the risk is low enough, despite finishing the game with a team-low -14.
- My God, Korver, SHOOT! He had five points on 2-for-4 and hit his one and only 3-pointer, but it's not like he was limited in PT. He played 22 minutes, but instead of fanning out to the 3-point line he's got his defender beat, he's curling and looking for the long-2. That helps no one. Sure, his trey was big, but easily could've been un-big by hitting two earlier ones on a good four or five earlier shots.
- Rumor has it, Omer Asik played. He notched a two trillion in a non-blowout, playing only the first two minutes of the second quarter.
Kurt Thomas' (four points on 2-for-4, four rebounds, one block in 10 minutes) physicality was Thibs' choice off the bench again.
- Gotta' enjoy C.J. Watson's aggressiveness. He had seven points on 3-for-6 shooting with an And-1 and two steals in eight minutes. the starters need to build more of a cushio on the scoreboards to get him on the floor in relief of Rose, though.