The Chicago Bulls erased a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter, coming back to beat the No. 8 seed Indiana Pacers, 104-99, on April 16 at the United Center in the first round opener of NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs.
Indiana outperformed Chicago most of the game, led by small forward Danny Grainger’s 24 points. Second-year forward Tyler Hansbrough dominated Chicago forward Carlos Boozier on the block, scoring 22 points.
Even so, that still wasn’t enough to stop Bulls’ star Derrick Rose, who led the game with 39 points. Rose never found his deep shot touch, missing all nine of his three-point attempts.
But the leading MVP candidate attacked the basket relentlessly, forcing his way to the foul line where he converted 19-of-21 free-throw attempts. He also had six assists, including a huge pass to swingman Kyle Korver for a three-pointer that sealed the victory.
Grainger told reporters he knew the Pacers late-game lead was never safe.
“With Derrick Rose on the other team? No,” Granger said, according to the Associated Press, who compared Rose to “a crazy, stalker ex-girlfriend. Everytime you tell her you don't want to talk to her, she'll show up at your door again.”
Rose said he wasn’t surprised by Indiana’s ability to go toe-to-toe with the NBA’s top ranked team.
“We knew it was going to be a hard game,” Rose said, according to AP. “From the beginning I guess we weren't prepared for it. Next time I think we'll be ready.”
The Bulls take a 1-0 lead in a best-of-7 series. Game 2 tips off on Monday night April 19 at the United Center in Chicago.