Derrick Rose tied a career high with 42 points, including three free throws with no time remaining in regulation, to pull the Bulls back from a 16 point second half deficit and force the game into overtime. Unfortunately for Chicago, Rose fouled out with 24 seconds remaining in OT, and as he scored 25 of the Bulls final 28 points, his team's fate was all but sealed.
The loss snaps the Bulls' eight-game win streak, their longest since 2005. Luol Deng had 21 points and 10 rebounds in an exhausting 48 minutes of court time. Glue guy that he is, it is important that coach Tom Thibodeau finds a way to give Deng a bit of rest before the playoffs begin. Taj Gibson played well in Boozer's absence with 8 points and 16 rebounds.
Tyler Hansbrough had 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, and Danny Granger had 19 points and 6 rebounds before fouling out in overtime.
The Pacers did well defensively to limit Rose to two assists and Noah to three rebounds, holding both well below their season averages.
After allowing 62 first half points, the Bulls struggled to catch up with the Pacers until a furious rally that saw Chicago outscore the pacers 29-16 in the final stanza. Rose's clutch free throws with the clock reading triple zero were for naught on Friday night, but will serve the MVP candidate, and his team, well as the playoffs near.
The Bulls get a few days to put the loss in perspective before the Sacramento Kings come to Chicago on Monday night. After missing the last five games, chances are Carlos Boozer will return from the sprained ankle he suffered last Wednesday against the Bobcats.
Lucky for the Bulls, the Celtics also lost Friday night to the Houston Rockets. As such, Chicago retains its half-game lead atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The Bulls were outrebounded 50-46, the first time they have lost that statistical battle in more than a month.
The Pacers bench outscored Chicago 29-25, in what was one of the key battles of the game.
Sacramento comes to the United Center Monday night at 7:00 CDT