Derrick Rose was beaten up and shaken up by Indiana’s trapping defense, which was intent on shutting him down at all costs.
The Bulls guard struggled all game long and even lost his cool at times, but he still found a way to be the difference-maker. He scored 23 points, including the go-ahead layup with 17.8 seconds left, to help Chicago beat the Pacers, 88-84, last night in Indianapolis and take a 3-0 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Rose’s late basket was his only field goal in the second half. He made just 4 of 18 shots in the game as he was blanketed, and at times pummeled, by Indiana’s Paul George and Dahntay Jones.
“It was a little rough out there, but it’s basketball,’’ he said. “They had something to prove.’’
Rose, guarded by Jones, drove left for the layup that gave the Bulls an 86-84 lead and sparked “MVP!’’ chants from the thousands of Bulls fans who made the three-hour drive.
Danny Granger had a chance to give the Pacers the lead, but his 3-pointer was off, and Chicago’s Ronnie Brewer rebounded. Brewer was fouled, and he made two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Rose missed his first eight shots of the second half, but he never hesitated when it was time to go for the lead late.
“The whole time, I was just thinking I’ll go to the hole,’’ he said. “It was tough the whole night the way they were playing, but at that time, I saw space and went for it.’’
Rose made up for his shooting difficulties by making 13 of 15 free throws. He averaged 37.5 points in the first two games of the series, and the Pacers made it clear that slowing him was their top priority heading into Game 3. Their poor shooting — 38 percent — cost them a chance to take advantage.
Luol Deng had 21 points and Korver added 12 for the Bulls, who can close out the series tomorrow.
Granger, who led the Pacers with 21 points, said the Pacers wanted something better than the contested 26-footer that bounced off the rim with 2.2 seconds remaining.
“We didn’t get the look we wanted,’’ he said. “That was the best shot we could get. That wasn’t the way we wanted it, but that was the way it happened.’’
Indiana took a 68-65 lead on a layup by Jones with just over 10 minutes to play. His fadeaway jumper over Korver bumped Indiana’s lead to 70-65.
Rose tied the game with two free throws, then gave the Bulls a 72-70 lead with two free throws after he drove and drew Indiana center Roy Hibbert’s fifth foul. Korver followed with a 3-pointer to push Chicago’s lead to 75-70 with seven minutes to go.
Indiana closed within 75-74, but Korver struck again with a three to increase Chicago’s lead to 78-74 with six minutes left. A baseline jumper by Granger tied the score at 84 with 1:42 remaining to set up the frantic ending.
Chicago has won the three games by a combined 15 points.
“We’re really frustrated right now,’’ Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough said. “I know I’m frustrated. We now have to work to stay in this series and win our game here at home.’’
Heat 100, 76ers 94 — At Philadelphia, Dwyane Wade had 32 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 24 points and 15 boards, and Miami rallied from an early 10-point deficit to move within one win of a sweep of the Eastern Conference series.
Wade delivered a string of big baskets — he was 10 of 19 from the field overall — in the third and fourth quarters that spurred the Heat to the brink of the conference semifinals. He drew a foul on a spin move against Jrue Holiday and hit two free throws with 51.6 seconds left that about clinched the game. Wade was 12 for 12 from the free throw line.
James hit the court hard late in the fourth quarter and briefly sat against the scorer’s table. He grimaced when his teammates pulled him up and he slowly walked back to Miami’s bench. He’s expected to be OK for Game 4 Sunday.
Elton Brand had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers and Holiday scored 20 points. Lou Williams added 15 points, but missed a 3-pointer in the final minute that would have made it a 1-point game.
Trail Blazers 97, Mavericks 92 — Wesley Matthews had 25 points and Portland held on at home to narrow Dallas’s lead in the first-round playoff series to 2-1.
The Blazers led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but Dirk Nowitzki hit consecutive jumpers to make it 87-81 midway through the period.
Jose Barea’s layup for the Mavericks closed the gap to 93-87. LaMarcus Aldridge answered with a jumper for the Blazers, but Nowitzki came back after a free throw with a turnaround jumper to make it 95-90 with 42.8 seconds left.
Jason Kidd made a long jumper with 12.9 seconds to go but Dallas couldn’t catch the Blazers.
Jason Terry had 29 points coming off the bench early for the Mavericks, including five 3-pointers.
Game 4 is tomorrow at the Rose Garden.