Bulls 92, Pacers 73
The Chicago Bulls are starting to look like a team that is putting it all together. For an instant on Monday night, a nasty fall by their star point guard brought out thoughts that their season could fall apart.
Derrick Rose had 17 points and 12 assists and ignited a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter that broke open a close game and led the Bulls to a 92-73 victory over the Indiana Pacers for their first six-game winning streak since Nov. 25-Dec. 8, 2006.
The Bulls were pulling away when Rose gave the sellout crowd at the United Center a scare with 1:56 to go in the game.
With the crowd chanting ''MVP! MVP!'' as has been the custom of late, Rose drove into the lane and went up for a layup.
Indiana's Brandon Rush moved under him and Rose went to the court hard, his legs flying out behind him, using his hands to break his fall. Rose sounded less than thrilled about Rush's move on the play.
When asked if he learned anything from the spill, Rose said, ''He slid in my way. If anything, next time I'll be careful and learn from my mistakes. Especially with that team.
''Mind over matter,'' Rose said. ''You want to go out there and play through it.''
Rose rolled on the court for several minutes, holding his right wrist. After a timeout, he returned and made one of two free throws, putting Chicago ahead 85-71.
He said the play scared him.
''I thought it was going to be worse than it was,'' Rose said.
Rose was able to finish the game, but said the wrist was hurting. He hurt his ankle earlier in the game and looked a battle-worn after it.
When reporters were allowed into the Bulls' locker room, Rose was hunched in front of his locker, ice wrapped around his wrist with a large bandage and his feet submerged in a tub of ice.
''It's basketball,'' Rose said. ''Sometimes the game is going to get physical and you have to play through it.''
X-rays on Rose's wrist were negative. He's listed as questionable for Chicago's game Wednesday at Toronto, which might be a good thing, as he said his left ankle was also an issue.
''It's sore, too,'' Rose said. ''My whole body is sore right now.''
Carlos Boozer had 22 points and 18 rebounds to lead Chicago.
''I thought (Boozer's) reaction to the ball was really good tonight,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''You can really see his timing coming back.
''I thought we came out ready to play,'' he said. ''They played well. Down (injured Pacers forward Danny) Granger, they really competed.''
Rush and T.J. Ford both had 13 points for Indiana.
''It's tough,'' Ford said. ''You get off to a slow start like we did and you put yourself in a hole. We played pretty hard. It just took too much energy when it got down to winning time down the stretch.''
Granger missed the game with a sprained left ankle. He was injured in a loss at Atlanta on Saturday. Granger leads the Pacers with a 21.1 scoring average.
The 73 points was a season-low for Indiana and it was the third straight game Chicago held its opponent to a season-worst total.
''They're a really good defensive team,'' Indiana guard Mike Dunleavy said. ''(They're) well coached. We already knew that coming in. But we didn't help the situation by missing a lot of open 3's in the second half.''
Boozer said the Bulls are ''trying to get better every day. We don't look where we are, we look where we're trying to go.''
The Bulls led 74-69 when Rose returned with 6:01 to play. He scored four points and handed out two assists, both to Boozer, extending the lead to 84-69.
The Pacers never threatened again.
Rose was called for a technical foul in the second quarter, the first in his two-plus seasons in the NBA.
Boozer, who missed Chicago's first 15 games with a broken bone in his shooting hand, was defended for much of the game by 7-foot Indiana center Roy Hibbert.
Boozer simply drew the bigger player out onto the perimeter and shot over him.
''They run that pick-and-roll and find a way to get an open shot,'' Rush said. ''They had us on the run all night.''
After getting outrebounded in the first half, the Bulls controlled the boards with a 29-14 advantage after halftime when the Pacers held a 15-2 edge in second-chance points.
Not surprisingly, that was Thibodeau's point of emphasis in his halftime comments.
''Plain and simple, Coach Thibs just said they kicked our butt on the boards in the second quarter,'' Boozer said. ''I don't know what it was. Usually, we're a dominant rebounding team.''
After a back-and-forth start to the third period, the Bulls got the crowd going a little bit with about three minutes left in the quarter.
Noah out-battled Hibbert for an offensive rebound and skipped a pass to an open Luol Deng at the 3-point line. Deng nailed the open shot, giving the Bulls a 59-50 lead.
Chicago was ahead 65-58 after three quarters, led by Boozer's 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Early, it looked like the Bulls were going to enjoy their second straight laugher. Chicago beat Minnesota 113-82 at the United Center on Saturday in game that was never close.
Four Bulls starters scored in the first 2 1/2 minutes as Chicago jumped to 14-2 lead and the other, Keith Bogans, had two steals. The Bulls eventually pushed the lead to 20-4.
The Pacers chipped away at the lead, then finally went ahead on Josh McRoberts' putback slam of a miss by Rush miss, putting Indiana up 34-33 with 5:16 to go in the half. The Bulls led 43-41 at halftime.