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Pacers' Top Priority: Keeping Rose Off The Line

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

April 18, 2011

You look at the numbers and wonder.

In these last two games against the Bulls, including Game 1 of the first-round playoff series Saturday, the Pacers held Derrick Rose to 42 percent shooting overall, 2-of-17 from the 3-point line. He produced just eight assists against seven turnovers.

And yet Chicago's point guard dominated both games thanks largely to his ability to offset modest shooting efficiency with a prolific number of trips to the free-throw line.

If the Pacers are to beat Chicago in Game 2 tonight in United Center, they must first find a way to expand their containment of Rose to the stripe.

"That's what Derrick Rose is," said interim coach Frank Vogel. "Not a lot of them were bad calls. Most of them were just him being aggressive and getting him to the basket. We've got to have a wall of defenders every time he goes in there. It's that simple."

Rose's career high for attempts is 21, which just happens to be the number he has reached in each of those two games. Just for perspective, this is a guy that averaged 6.9 attempts during the regular season.

How can you adjust to that?

"Just stay in tune with each other, keep him out of the paint as much as possible and the most important thing is keeping him off the foul line," said Indiana point guard Darren Collison.

"For the most part I thought we did a good job contesting his shots when we needed but when we fouled him, there could've been some needless fouls but guys are trying to be aggressive.

"We did a good job. We've just got to keep him off the foul line."

Therein lies the rub. You may think you've done a good job otherwise. But if any player is scoring 37 points from the line in two games, if any player is going to the line more than your entire team (as was the case in Game 1) you have not done a good enough job.

"It's a hard task," said Roy Hibbert. "It's not one man's job to do it, it's all five guys on the court. We can tweak some things. I can't give you guys all the details. We don't want Chicago to get any of our info. But we're going to change some things up."

Considering what it has taken from Rose for the Bulls to escape with one victory on those two games -- 42 points to force overtime on March 18, a game the Pacers eventually won, and 39 Saturday -- there's no burden to shut him down.

The Pacers have demonstrated Vogel's offensive approach works against Chicago, at least until the final 3-5 minutes. They've racked up 224 points in those two games.

So the pressure on the defense is not unreasonable. Shutting down Rose isn't on the agenda. Just keep him from playing any more games that will prompt talk of a new statue outside the United Center.

"Just contain him," said Danny Granger. "We can't give up 40 points, 21 free throws. That's our main priority. We realize they have other players but our main priority right now is Derrick Rose."