The Chicago Bulls were considered the hottest team in the league entering Friday night's game against the Pacers. They had won eight in a row, and were primed for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Tonight, though, the Pacers decided to make a statement.
The Pacers beat the Bulls in overtime, by a score of 115-108. The game wasn't as close as you would think for the majority of the game though.
The Pacers led by 10 at the end of the first quarter, by 14 at the half and by 16 heading into the final quarter. The Bulls surged in that final quarter to outscore Indiana by 16, forcing the overtime period. Luckily for the Pacers, Rose had run out of gas by that point.
Rose tied a career high with 42 points for Chicago. He scored 19 in the fourth quarter and made three free throws with 1.2 seconds left to force overtime. Luol Deng played second fiddle once again, finishing with 21 points on the night.
The Pacers were led by Tyler Hansbrough's solid play once again. He posted another double-double with 29 points and 12 rebounds. Darren Collison also had another fantastic outing, with 17 points and eight assists. Danny Granger added 19 for the blue and gold.
Before we take this game too seriously, we must remember that the Bulls were without Carlos Boozer in this game, as he sat out his fifth straight game with a bad left ankle.
With that aside, it was still a great effort by the Pacers tonight, even though they almost gave it away at the end. That has been the problem that has plagued this team for the past few years.
They play as well as anybody for three quarters, but they seem to forget that this isn't hockey, and there is actually a fourth period in every game.
The Pacers have now won three of their last four games, which have all been impressive. They beat the Knicks twice, then lost in Boston by a dozen, then defeated the Bulls tonight in overtime. Hansbrough has scored at least 29 points three times this week alone.
His emergence, with Darren Collison, has been the big difference for this team. Technically this is just the second season for both of them, but neither of them played a lot last year, so in a way it is almost their rookie seasons.
It appears they may finally be "getting it". In the past five games, Collison has dished out 41 assists, giving him an average of 8.2 per game over that span.
I am happy to say they have proved me wrong since that point. This team is now fighting and playing offense the way they should. The ball is moving around, and it is actually getting inside, and Tyler and Roy are able to put it in the basket.
This was the fourth and final game between these two division rivals this season. Chicago was going for the sweep tonight, but Indiana was able to grab one. These two could very well see each other in a first-round playoff series in the East.
It was sort of an unusual day at Conseco Fieldhouse, so it makes perfect sense that this game turned out the way it did. Earlier in the day, Larry Bird presented Dario Franchitti with his second Indianapolis 500 winning ring. On top of that, former Pacers players Rik Smits and Derrick McKey were in attendance for tonight's game.
The game is scheduled to tip-off at 8 p.m. in Memphis tomorrow.