CHICAGO -- The way this series is going for the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose wasn't sure if he should feel relieved or concerned.
"It's kind of both," he said.
The 2-0 lead sure looks good. How they got it, though, is a different matter.
Rose scored 36 points, Carlos Boozer added 17 points and 16 rebounds, and the top-seeded Bulls pulled out another dramatic victory over Indiana, beating the Pacers 96-90 on Monday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
"It's always good to win in this league," Rose said. "It's very hard to win. But the way that we're winning, we're just trying to sharpen up things especially on the defensive end so that we can control the game more instead of us having to play crazy at the end of the game."
Rose went wild again, scoring eight points over the final four minutes. Kyle Korver nailed another big three-pointer to make it 90-85 with just over a minute left after hitting the tiebreaker in the opener.
A.J. Price hit three free throws with 23.4 seconds left after being fouled by Rose to cut the lead to 90-88. Luol Deng quickly answered with two of his own to make it a four-point game. Ronnie Brewer added two more after a missed three by Mike Dunleavy, and Chicago, which made its last 16 free throws, hung on.
It hasn't been easy for the Bulls after they stormed through the regular season with a league-best 62-20 record.
"Our play has to get better," Rose said. "We have to be more smooth, more efficient, especially on the defensive end where we have to try a lot harder. But I feel like we're going to get things together pretty quickly."
The Pacers hung in even though they lost Darren Collison to a sprained left ankle going for a layup late in the first half, and coach Frank Vogel is "very" concerned his point guard might miss the rest of the series. Vogel said he's not sure that will happen; he had not talked to team medical personnel.
"He's a big part of what we do," Vogel said. "I don't even know what the update is. I just know he was out for the rest of the game. We'll see where he's at. We got two days."
Rose continued to continued to torment the Pacers even though he had six of his team's 22 turnovers, following up a career playoff-best 39-point performance with another big outing. How good has he been in this series?
Well, Indiana's Danny Granger went from comparing him to a "crazy stalker ex-girlfriend" who doesn't go away after Game 1 to saying this after Game 2: "I feel like this was the sequel to the Derrick Rose show. It really just happened all over again."
Rose didn't get to the line quite as much this time but made the most of his opportunities, hitting 12 of 13 free throws after making 19 of 21 in the opener.
Boozer came up big after a quiet Game 1. The Bulls dominated the boards, outrebounding Indiana 57-33, and came away with the win even though they shot just 38.6 per cent and had trouble hanging onto the ball.
Granger led Indiana with 19 points, but Tyler Hansbrough struggled, finishing with just six points on 2-of-12 shooting after scoring 22 points in the opener.
"We feel like we've outplayed them for most of the series," Price said.
Indiana's T.J. Ford provided the shot of the game at the end of the third quarter when he banked in an 65-foot heave at the buzzer that tied it at 67, sending loud oohs and aahs through the arena.
But the Bulls let out a big sigh of relief in the end. They realize there's plenty of room for improvement, but they're still in control.
For that, they can thank Rose.
"He made big play after big play," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He kept attacking the basket. They put a lot of pressure on him. He made the right play. He made the right decisions. He go to the line again. We have to do a better job taking care of the ball. That caused a lot of problems for us."
One encouraging sign was the emergence of Boozer after foul trouble helped limit him in Game 1.
"The big thing is that he was more aggressive because he was not in foul trouble," Thibodeau said. "His rebounding was great. He got off to a good start offensively. We should have searched him out more in the post in the second half."
NOTES: Bulls G Ronnie Brewer said he doesn't expect his sprained left thumb to heal until after the season and will likely play with pain the rest of the way. "It's not like it's just going to heal after a day or two," he said. "We practice every day. It's not like I'm sitting out or taking plays off." ... Thibodeau on Granger's stalker comment about Rose: "I certainly don't see it that way. I guess beauty's in the eye of the beholder. He looks pretty good to me." ... Former Bull Cliff Levingston presented the game ball before the opening tip. ... Fans cheered Bears coach Lovie Smith when he was shown during a timeout late in the first quarter. ... The Pacers have not won a playoff game since Game 3 of their first-round series with New Jersey in 2006. They dropped the next three games to bow out in six and did not get back to the post-season until this year.