The Pacers lost the first three games in the final seconds. Today, they decided that moral victories were not enough.
Although it was another close finish, the Pacers finally were on the winning side of one. They nearly had an epic collapse though, as they led by 17 points before the Bulls made a late comeback to cut the lead to one with just 15 seconds remaining.
The Pacers were able to hold on 89-84, sending the series back to the Chicago for a Game 5.
Danny Granger led all scorers with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Roy Hibbert added 16 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana. Joakim Noah had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Derrick Rose had 15 points and 10 assists and Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Bulls.
The Pacers decided to go with the all yellow alternate road jerseys, which seemed fitting since it had the feel of an away game. Just looking around and listening to the fans here at Conseco Fieldhouse, at least half of them were rooting for the team in red.
Pacers rookie Paul George had a fantastic start to this game, scoring seven points, grabbing three rebounds and a couple of steals. Indiana got off to a nice start by going inside and being aggressive. They used a 7-0 run to establish a four point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Carlos Boozer got into foul trouble again early, picking up his second foul just midway through the first quarter. It was very apparent though, when looking at the play, that it was a horrible call. I'm not sure if the referee thought he saw something different, but Boozer basically just put his arm on top of Hansbrough's and was called for an offensive foul.
The big news of the first quarter however, was the injury to Derrick Rose. He turned his ankle on a drive to the basket with just over a minute remaining in the quarter. He came up limp, and was taken to the locker room by the trainers.
Rose returned in the second quarter, and showed no signs of the injury. He was just as quick, and continued to make highlight reel plays. Indiana's bench started the quarter strong, before the Bulls started to make a run. The starters returned, and the Pacers closed the second quarter on a 17-3 run to take a 16 point lead into halftime.
Indiana came out with the same intensity to open the second half, adding to their lead. Minutes into the third quarter they had an 18 point lead. Chicago slowly dug into the lead though, trimming it down to just 11 points as the teams headed for the always interesting fourth quarter.
Not surprisingly, this game once again came down to the fourth quarter. Despite leading by 17 points in the final quarter, the Pacers managed to nearly end their season the worst way possible. The Pacers could not find a way to put the Bulls away in the fourth quarter. Every player in a yellow jersey looked about as nervous as a a kid going to the dentist.
Chicago will head home with unfinished business, and the Pacers will make another trip to the United Center for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
The Pacers' season will last at least another game. More importantly, the team has now won a playoff game for the first time since 2006. Even though they won't win the series, for the first time in five years, they can end their season with their heads held high.