When the Bulls get in trouble, they often call help from the bench. In Saturday's tense Game 1 against Indiana, they asked for help from red-clad fans at the United Center.
During the game-ending 16-1 run, mild-mannered forward Luol Deng started waving his arms at midcourt to implore the crowd to increase the noise level.
"We needed every fan in there to cheer," Derrick Rose said. "That really gave us some momentum in the last two minutes. That's a team that hasn't played together for a long time and making their first playoff appearance. I think it got to them."
Pacers forward Danny Granger, who scored 24 points, described the din.
"You can't hear anything," he said. "On defense, you're talking, but it's like your lips are moving and you can't hear anything."
The Bulls fought for 82 games to secure homecourt advantage through the entire NBA playoffs. So it's appropriate that the home crowd provided an assist for victory No. 1.
"I felt like we needed the crowd behind us," Deng said. "I thought Indiana played really hard and really well. At that time of the game, we just needed whatever we could get. I thought the crowd responded great and kind of got us going."