Bulls rally from 10 down late to beat Pacers in opener

Associated Press

4/16/2011 7:43:06 PM

CHICAGO -- Derrick Rose scored 39 points, Kyle Korver nailed the go-ahead three-pointer and the top-seeded Chicago Bulls rallied from a late 10-point deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 104-99 in their playoff opener on Saturday.

Trailing 98-88 late in the game, the Bulls showed the resolve that carried them to a league-best 62-20 record, outscoring Indiana 16-1 over the final 3:38.

Rose scored seven during that run, including a three-point play and a floater that tied it at 99 with 1:27 left. He then hit Korver with a crosscourt pass for a three that gave the Bulls their first lead at 102-99 with 48 seconds remaining.

Danny Granger then missed a tying three. Joakim Noah got the rebound, and Rose eventually hit two free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining. He was 19 of 21 from the line and had six assists and six rebounds in another strong performance.

Luol Deng added 18 points and Korver finished with 13.

Danny Granger led Indiana with 24 points. Tyler Hansbrough shook off an elbow from Kurt Thomas to finish with 22, but the Pacers came up just short in their first playoff game in five years.

Even so, they gave the Bulls all they could handle.

With the Pacers leading 98-88, Luol Deng hit two free throws with 3:28 remaining to start the comeback. Joakim Noah followed with a tip-in and dunk to make it a four-point game, and the Bulls were on their way.

Exactly how far they'll go remains to be seen, but they're certainly aiming high after securing homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. They won nine straight and 21 of 23 down the stretch, and anything less than a big run would be a big disappointment.

Meanwhile, the Pacers will try to shake this one off and figure out how a game that looked so promising ended in defeat.

They were concerned late in the third quarter when Hansbrough got elbowed in the head by Kurt Thomas as he was trying to rebound a miss by Rose. Hansbrough stayed down for several minutes and, still woozy, had to take a seat in the tunnel.

He eventually walked to the locker-room on his own power and returned to the game with 5:33 remaining, just before Deng nailed a three to pull Chicago within 89-86. Then, after a fadeaway by Granger, Deng got called for a technical after a hard foul by Hansbrough on Rose, who converted both free foul shots after Darren Collison missed his shots from the line.

Hansbrough struck again, hitting back-to-back jumpers that made it 95-88, and his three-point play put the lead at 10 with 3:38 remaining. But the Bulls came storming back.

NOTES: Pacers coach Frank Vogel figured his team wasn't going to get many calls in its favour, particularly on the road in the playoffs, so to prepare for the Bulls he had his reserves get physical in practice. "We encourage them to hold on every screen, make every screen illegal, push off, foul, grab," he said. "Do everything they can outside of the rules to simulate to our guys what the playoffs are going to be like. They're not going to get these calls they're going to have to fight through it all." Is he saying the Bulls don't play by the rules? "I said nobody plays by the rules (in the playoffs)," he responded. "If you're on the road in the playoffs you do not get calls. You have to understand that." ... The Bulls tied San Antonio for the best home record at 36-5 during the regular season. ... The Bulls went 53-12 after a 9-8 start. ... This is the second time Chicago and Indiana have met in the playoffs. The Bulls defeated the Pacers in a dramatic conference final in seven games in 1998, on the way to their sixth championship. ... Former Bulls assistant Johnny Bach presented the game ball before the opening tip. ... John Lucas III, Jannero Pargo and Brian Scalabrine were inactive for the Bulls, while the Pacers held out Soloman Jones, James Posey and Lance Stephenson.