Derrick Rose seems to do everything for the Bulls late in games, but Kyle Korver has sort of become clutch option 1A.
The long-range specialist took a pass from Rose and drained a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 48.4 seconds left as the Bulls beat Indiana 104-99 in a competitive Game 1 at the United Center.
Korver hit a game-winning 3-pointer against Miami earlier this season and has knocked down a number of important fourth-quarter baskets. After Saturday's victory, Korver summed up the life of a spot-up shooting specialist.
"At the end of the game, guys tighten up or guys don't," he said. "That's just the way it always goes."
Indiana built a lead by making open jumpers, then finished the game with 8 straight misses. Obviously, the Bulls also picked up their defense when faced with the desperation of a 10-point deficit with 3:38 remaining.
Rose scored on a couple of drives into the lane to tie the score at 99-99. On his third trip to the paint, he kicked it out to Korver.
"I'm just thinking about how I prepare for a shot," Korver said. "I'm thinking about getting my legs in, getting my weight forward, my arms straight. I'm thinking about those things instead of 'This is a big shot. You've got to be ready.'
"They're obviously extremely worried about Derrick. The whole point of me being out there is if my man sags down. If my man doesn't sag down, Derrick's got a lane to the basket."
Fair or foul:
The Pacers clearly planned to play physical defense against Derrick Rose. But they still took exception to the Bulls' 32-17 advantage in free throw attempts. Rose went 19-for-21 at the foul line.
"He drives to the basket, he's impossible to take a charge on," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Rose. "So the league rule says you jump straight up and if he jumps into you, there should be a no call. That's what we're just trying to teach our guys to do. We're trying to jump straight up, earn a no-call and be a big body in the paint."
Vogel picked up a technical foul with 1.8 seconds left in the first half when guard Darren Collison for traveling after getting bumped by Rose. It would have been Rose's third foul if the call had gone the other way.
Indiana center Roy Hibbert finished with 5 fouls, as did Bulls forward Carlos Boozer.
"Jump straight in the air. That's what I was doing the whole night," Hibbert said, displaying selective memory. "If he attacks the paint, I step up and I jump straight in the air and (I should) earn a no-call. I learned that from watching Dwight (Howard)."
Indiana's Mike Dunleavy has played in 627 regular-season games over nine seasons, but Saturday was his first NBA playoff appearance. … Indiana's Danny Granger on the Bulls' late comeback: "It hurts even more. Honestly, I'd rather lose by 20. We were right there."