Result: Chicago beat Atlanta 95-83 in Game 5
What it means: The Bulls take a 3-2 series lead
How it happened: NBA MVP Derrick Rose attacked the rim like a fish going for the bait, driving at will and doing all he could to lead his team to a crucial victory last night.
Taj Gibson pitched in, too. So did Luol Deng, and now the Chicago Bulls are one win away from the Eastern Conference finals.
The last time they got there? Two guys named Michael and Scottie were wreaking havoc on the rest of the NBA. All they have to do is take out the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the conference semifinals tomorrow night.
“We can’t get tired or bored,” Rose said.
“We know that going down there, they’re going to give us their all. I think we have to come out and play our way — defense first and make things tough on them. We’re a good team when we have pace to us.”
And the pace was perfect for Chicago, particularly down the stretch last night.
Rose scored 33 points, Gibson scored all of his 11 in the fourth quarter, and the Bulls beat the Atlanta Hawks 95-83 in Game 5 on Tuesday night to take a 3-2 lead.
Luol Deng added 23 points and Chicago let out a big sigh of relief.
A win tomorrow in Atlanta would put the Bulls in the conference finals for the first time since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen wrapped up their second championship three-peat in 1998.
They are in this position after dominating Atlanta in the fourth quarter 26-15, with Rose matching Gibson’s 11 points.
Rose showed why he is the league’s youngest MVP, hitting 11 of 24 shots and finishing with nine assists. It was a big improvement over Game 4 when he needed 32 shots to score 34 points, and he was particularly effective down the stretch, attacking the rim.
“He made unbelievable plays. He exploded off the pick and roll,” Atlanta’s Josh Smith said.
Jeff Teague was big again for the Hawks in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich, scoring 21 for the third time in this series, but Atlanta came up short in the end.
Smith contributed 16 points. Joe Johnson scored 15, Zaza Pachulia finished with 13 points and Al Horford added 12 points and 10 rebounds. But Jamal Crawford scored just two points on 1-of-9 shooting.
“We were playing for everything,” Horford said. “We have to regroup again and get ready for Thursday.”
It hasn’t been an easy postseason for the Bulls after they stormed to a league-leading 62 wins, with Indiana pushing them in the first round and the Hawks doing the same. Even so, they are poised to advance.
Heer’s how it went down -
- additional reporting AP