INDIANAPOLIS - If this eventually proves to be a first-round playoff preview, the Chicago Bulls might want to pack some smelling salts for the return engagement.
In easily the most physical game of the season, the Bulls were pushed around early, rallied late and eventually had their eight-game winning streak ended Friday night when the Pacers overcame a fourth-quarter collapse for a 115-108 overtime victory.
The bruises didn’t end when the final buzzer sounded considering the level of self-flagellation in the postgame locker room.
“My turnovers hurt the game, plain and simple,” Derrick Rose said. “(Overtime) is the time I’m supposed to take over. And I didn’t show up.”
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Then again, overtime doesn’t happen if not for Rose, who scored 19 of the Bulls’ final 20 points in regulation as part of his career-high-tying 42 points.
Tyler Hansbrough had 29 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pacers.
About the only good news came when the Celtics lost in Houston, keeping the Bulls a half-game ahead in the race for the Eastern Conference’s top playoff seed.
“They hit us in the mouth early and we didn’t respond,” Taj Gibson said. “We let them set the tone from the jump.”
Rose missed 4 of 5 shots and committed one of his four turnovers before fouling out in overtime, where the Pacers scored the first seven points after blowing a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead.
Welcome home, soldier: Center court. All eyes on him. Tim James never had that moment when he played for the Miami Heat. He will this weekend, when the Heat celebrates him for wearing a different uniform – the one of the U.S. Army. The Heat has honored soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan with pregame ceremonies since 2006, and before Miami faces the Denver Nuggets today, the team will stop to welcome back one of its own. “I’m excited, I’m nervous and I’m a bit overwhelmed, because I never expected this,” James said. James was Miami’s first-round pick in 1999 out of the University of Miami, but he appeared in only four games.