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The end of the Game

Wow. Simply unbelievable. I fully admit after that terrible sequence by Carlos Boozer where he turned it over and then gave a cheap full as Tyler Hansbrough was throwing it down I thought for sure the game was over. The lead was 10, it was getting late, and I thought that sequence by Hansbrough (who scored I think 7 points in a row) was enough to sustain the spark that Luol was trying to be.

Then, just like that, we were back. I’m trying to play it out in my head, and like most big comebacks, it’s hard to remember how you came all the way back so quickly. I remember Joakim had a tip in, then a dunk with a foul thanks to a sweet pass from Derrick. It’s incredible how well Derrick sees the floor. And then he took over…. The and 1 to cut it to 2 was absolutely huge, and then the spin move that led to the game tying bucket was just dirty. Before you knew it he was driving and kicking to Kyle with a chance to take the lead. Like my friend Carl said via text message today, “you just knew Korver was going to make that shot.”

The biggest thing down the stretch was that the defensive intensity was finally there. The offense wasn’t a problem, but for much of the game the defense was appalling. We we’re trading buckets all game long and that’s not how you come back on a team. But down the stretch we were finally able to string some stops together and that was what we really needed all game long. I don’t think the Pacers scored a field goal for about the final 4 minutes of the game.

I also love the emotion today. The game really seemed to turn around after Luol’s technical foul. He really got the crowd in the game. We really seemed to feed off of the crowd and the momentum is the final minutes of the game. I was also laughing like crazy watching Joakim lose his mind at the end of the game.

Derrick

Wow. The most impressive stat to me was 19-for-21 from the Free Throw line. And like Thibs said after the game, he could have had a few more. Late in the game it seemed like he was able to get to the rim whenever he wanted. Remember how early in the year we were frustrated at how few Free Throws he was shooting? He could have shot 25 tonight. The Pacers made it clear that they wanted to hammer him but it really didn’t seem to bother him. Early in the game after a hard foul from Foster he got up nodding and saying “okay” as if to say “it’s on now.” He stayed calm all game long and knocked down his free throws. We needed every one of those free throws. And he sees the court so well. Some of the passes he was able to make today were incredible. I do have to say though, that he really seemed to struggle defensively for most of the game.

The Defense today

It wasn’t just Derrick, the entire team was very bad defensively. Carlos Boozer was awful again tonight. He owes Derrick Rose a big “thank you” because if we had lost this game he would be taking a lot more heat these next two days than he will be now that we won the game. But he was just terrible tonight. With him playing average ball offensively, if doesn’t at least step it up to adequate defensively we’re better off going with guys like Thomas, Gibson, and Asik for longer stretches. As mad as I was at Boozer, it really was a team effort (or lack thereof) defensively today. We should never give up 55 first half points at home. Never. That goes against everything this team has stood for this year.

Where do we go from here?

Boy, it feels like we stole one today, doesn’t it? In reality, all we did was hold serve at home but it feels like so much more. There are two ways the Pacers can go from here. If they’re a character bunch they can say, we outplayed the Bulls today. We proved we can play with them and this is going to be a heck of a series. The other way they can go from here, perhaps more likely, is to say that they played their best game today and they still lost the game. I have a hard time believing that Granger, Hansbrough, and Collison are all going to continue to play as well as they did today. My hope is that the Bulls got the jitters out of their system today and will play much better the remainder of the series. You have to think that the final 4 minutes of today’s game will really loosen them up. A convincing win on Monday would be huge.