By Conrad Brunner, Pacers.com
As the Pacers prepared for Game 5, the young coach outlined how he believed, if his team could win Tuesday night, it had an excellent chance to win the rest of the first-round series. His reasoning was that this would be the toughest game of the series and that, if that supreme challenge was met, things most certainly would turn their way.
He was right about the challenge, but it proved too much for the young Pacers this time around.
With Derrick Rose scoring 25 points and breaking things open with three consecutive 3-pointers in a devastating third-quarter run, the Bulls played by far their best game of the series and closed things out with a 116-89 victory in United Center.
"He's spectacular and I wish him all the best," said Vogel of Rose. "He's a great kid, he's a great player. I don't know that anybody has an answer about how to stop him. We did our best. We fought hard. He was too much for us."
Danny Granger led Indiana with 20 points. Tyler Hansbrough had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Roy Hibbert added 11 and Dahntay Jones 10 for the Pacers, who shot 39 percent and had more turnovers (20) than assists (14).
The Pacers led for 71 percent of the minutes in the first four games but came up with just one victory. They trailed wire to wire in Game 5 and by double digits much of the night as Rose no ill effects of the left ankle sprain incurred late in the first quarter of Game 4.
"You always want to do better," Vogel said. "I'm not happy losing 1-4 by any stretch. But I'm proud of the way these guys came together as a team, as a unit, played for each other and fought for each other and produced and played some really good basketball at times. I'm really proud of them."
Luol Deng added 24, Keith Bogans 15, Joakim Noah 14 and Kyle Korver 13 for the Bulls, who were 14-of-31 (45 percent) from the 3-point line.
It's tough to contain Rose," said Hansbrough. "We did so many things. We changed up, we tried trapping him, we tried regular blitzing, we tried giving him different looks. But as a team, they're one of the more physical teams. They definitely can rebound. That was a challenge for us, keeping them off the offensive boards. And keeping Noah out of there."
Chicago awaits the winner of the Orlando-Atlanta series in the second round. The Hawks lead that series 3-2.
"I'm speechless, it's unbelievable, I can't believe it," said Rose. "I'm happy for my teammates, coaching staff and just want to keep it going. My teammates are great. It feels great giving back on a winning team. I haven't had that since I was back in college. The front office has picked up the right guys and Coach Thibs (Tom Thibodeau) is doing the right things. It just feels great now."
It took the Bulls roughly three minutes to open up their biggest lead of the series, hitting six of their first seven shots -- and rebounding their only miss for a second-chance bucket -- in jumping out to a 14-2 lead. They controlled the rest of the half and took a 54-46 lead into the break with their highest-scoring half of the series.
Until the second.
With Roy Hibbert contributing three quick buckets after a quiet first half, the Pacers made a move early in the third with an 11-2 run that included fourth fouls on Rose and Boozer while cutting the deficit to 61-57.
But Rose returned after sitting less than three minutes and simply took over the game.
He made three 3-pointers in a row -- after hitting 5-of-33 to that point in the series -- and Keith Bogans added two more from the arc as the Bulls blew it open with a 23-8 run to take an 84-65 lead into the fourth quarter.
The bad end to the period was made worse when Josh McRoberts was ejected for a Flagrant Type 2 foul for throwing two high elbows at Noah under the basket.
The Pacers got no closer than 15 in the fourth quarter.