CHICAGO, USA, April 27 – Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls eliminated Indiana as the hobbled point guard scored 24 points to lead the Bulls to a 116-89 win over the Pacers in game five of their NBA playoff series.
Luol Deng finished with 24 points on Tuesday for the top seeded Bulls who won the best-of-seven first round series four games to one.
"Speechless right now," Rose said. "I really can’t believe it. It’s a great accomplishment. I’m happy for my teammates, happy for my coaching staff. They did a really great job."
In the other Eastern Conference game Tuesday, the Orlando Magic staved off elimination by beating Atlanta 101-76 to set up a game six.
The Bulls will face the winner of the Hawks and Magic series in the NBA playoff quarter-finals.
For a while the Bulls didn’t know if Rose would be able to play after he sprained his left ankle in game four.
But Tuesday he made eight of 17 shots, scoring 10 points in the last six minutes of the third quarter. The Bulls took charge of the contest by going on a 23-8 run late in the third.
Joakim Noah finished with 14 points and eight rebounds for Chicago who won a playoff series for the first time since 2007 when they swept the Miami Heat in the opening round.
"All year long, we’ve focused in on going step by step," Thibodeau said. "I think once you start skipping steps and looking at all the other stuff, that’s when you get lost. So we knew we were capable of playing better, although when you look at the series, to be up 3-1, you’ve got to do a lot of things well, too."
Danny Granger scored 20 for the Pacers but he didn’t want to talk about that after the game. He blasted Chicago’s Noah accusing him of using his elbows illegally.
"He’s a dirty player, honestly," Granger said.
Jason Richardson and the Magic staved off elimination as the shooting guard scored 17 points to lead the Magic to a dominating win over Atlanta.
"We’re a good shooting team," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "This is more of us than what we showed in the first four games. This isn’t an aberration. We’ve been doing this for four years. The first four games were the aberration."
JJ Redick came off the bench to finish with 14 points for the Magic in game five of their best-of-seven playoff series.
The Magic are trying to become just the ninth team in National Basketball Association history to rebound and win a playoff series after being down three games to one.
The last team to do it was Phoenix who fought back to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the 2006 playoffs.
Magic centre Dwight Howard was held to just eight points and eight rebounds as he battled foul trouble throughout the contest.
Josh Smith led the Hawks with 22 points as they shot below 40 percent from the field for just the second time these playoffs.