Bulls blow away Pacers in second half

Associated Press Modified: March 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm •  Published: March 5, 2012
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CHICAGO (AP) — A dynamite third quarter by Derrick Rose and the Bulls denied Indiana any chance of a second straight win in Chicago.

Luol Deng scored 20 points, teaming with Rose in a decisive rally that sent Chicago to its seventh straight victory, 92-72 over the Pacers on Monday night.

"We had a lot more energy in the second half than we did in the first half," Deng said.

Rose added 13 points and nine assists, hitting three 3-pointers while Deng had two in the third as the Bulls blew open a close game.

"We fought our way back into the game," Rose said. "Our energy was kind of low and shots weren't falling. But we rebounded the ball and finished the game pretty good."

Joakim Noah had 17 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a dominating 60-32 edge on the boards. Chicago outscored the Pacers 20-4 on second-chance points. John Lucas III scored 13 points, one of three Chicago reserves in double figures.

"We struggled offensively in the first half," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "In the third quarter, we had great energy and imposed our will. The rebounding is what got us over the hump."

Paul George scored 21 points for Indiana, which had a six-game winning streak snapped. George Hill scored 17 points off the bench.

"Give credit to the Bulls," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "They had all the hustle stats. Won all the loose balls and obviously kicked our butts on the glass. "

The Bulls improved their league-best record to 32-8. Chicago stretched its lead to 2 1/2 games over Miami atop the Eastern Conference and to seven games over Indiana in the Central Division.

The Pacers were trying to win a seventh straight game for the first time in eight years.

"They really picked it up defensively," George said. "We deferred to them. Everybody on their side stepped up when we somewhat had Derrick Rose contained. Everybody else stepped up."

Chicago avenged a 95-90 loss to the Pacers on Jan. 25, one of just two home losses this season. Rose was irked after that game because of what he perceived to be Indiana's excessive celebration on the court after the game ended, saying "I can't wait till we play them again."

"You don't want to lose to a team twice in a row," Deng said. "Especially a team that we might face in the playoffs."

After the game, Rose sounded was more conciliatory.

"They're a good team," Rose said. "The last time we played them, they beat us here. Now we just have to deal with them. They put up a fight every time we play them. We're used to. I think it makes us better as a team."

Bulls guard Richard Hamilton left the game after just 1:23 had elapsed with a right shoulder injury. He did not return.