INDIANAPOLIS — Derrick Rose was beaten up and shaken up by Indiana's trapping defense, which was intent on shutting him down at all costs.
The Chicago Bulls guard struggled all game long and even lost his cool at times, but he still found a way to be the difference-maker. He scored 23 points, including the go-ahead layup with 17.8 seconds left, to help the Bulls beat the Pacers 88-84 on Thursday night and take a 3-0 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Rose's late basket was his only field goal in the second half. He made just 4 of 18 shots in the game as he was blanketed, and at times pummeled, by Indiana's Paul George and Dahntay Jones.
"It was a little rough out there, but it's basketball," he said. "They had something to prove."
Rose, guarded by Jones, drove left for the layup that gave the Bulls an 86-84 lead and sparked "MVP!" chants from the thousands of Bulls fans who made the 3-hour drive.
Danny Granger had a chance to give the Pacers the lead, but his 3-pointer was off, and Chicago's Ronnie Brewer rebounded. Brewer was fouled, and he made two free throws with 1.1 seconds left to put the game out of reach.
Rose missed his first eight shots of the second half, but he never hesitated when it was time to go for the lead late.
"The whole time, I was just thinking I'll go to the hole," he said. "It was tough the whole night the way they were playing, but at that time, I saw space and went for it."
Rose's teammates expected him to deliver.
"We have had a lot of close games all year," Bulls guard Kyle Korver said. "He always wants the ball at the end, and usually, he comes through."
Rose made up for his shooting difficulties by making 13 of 15 free throws. Chicago can close out the series on Saturday.
"The bottom line is we're up 3-0," Chicago forward Carlos Boozer said. "We're getting better. Our defense was much better than it was the first two games of the series, and we've got to be ready for Game 4."
Rose averaged 37.5 points in the first two games of the series, and the Pacers made it clear that slowing him was their top priority heading into Game 3. Their poor shooting — 38 percent — cost them a chance to take advantage.
Luol Deng had 21 points and Korver added 12 for the Bulls.
Granger, who led the Pacers with 21 points, said the Pacers wanted something better than the contested 26-footer that bounced off the rim with 2.2 seconds remaining.
"We didn't get the look we wanted," he said. "That was the best shot we could get. That wasn't the way we wanted it, but that was the way it happened."
The Pacers, who lost double-digit leads in both of the first two games, led by five points in the fourth quarter on Thursday and couldn't hold on.
Indiana had primarily used George, a 6-foot-8 rookie, on Rose in the first two games. This game, they added Jones, known for his defensive prowess, to the mix.
"I thought we did a great job on Rose," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I had a lot of confidence that they would do a good job on him."
A baseline jumper by Granger tied the score at 84 with 1:42 remaining to set up the frantic ending.
Again, Indiana couldn't close it out down the stretch.
"I thought we played really tough," Collison said. "And what happened at the end? Things just didn't go our way."
Chicago has won the three games by a combined 15 points.
"We're really frustrated right now," Pacers forward Tyler Hansbrough said. "I know I'm frustrated. We now have to work to stay in this series and win our game here at home."
HEAT 100, 76ERS 94: At Philadelphia, hours before Game 3 of the Heat-Sixers first-round series, Dwyane Wade had that big-game feeling.
Wade's 36 miserable hours of migraine headaches had passed, his head was clear and his game, well, he'd prove his game was back in championship form.
"I don't have to worry about bright lights," Wade said.
Was he ever fantastic under the postseason spotlight.
Wade had 32 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 24 points and 15 boards and the Miami Heat took a 3-0 lead in their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers with a 100-94 victory Thursday night.
"I felt a lot better," Wade said. "My game felt better. I think my teammates could see it."
The Heat saw it from the opening tip. Wade was driving, attacking, dunking — playing his game at full blast the way he couldn't in Game 2. He even fought through another familiar malady, a banged-up shoulder that needed ice and treatment.
Wade delivered with a string of big baskets — he was 10 of 19 from the field overall — in the third and fourth quarters that spurred the Heat to the brink of the conference semifinals. He drew a foul on a spin move against Jrue Holiday and hit two free throws with 51.6 seconds left that about clinched the game.
Wade missed practice before Game 2 with a migraine headache. He was slowed in Game 2 by the lingering effects of the headache and scored a combined 31 points in the first two games.
"He understood we needed something a little bit more," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
Wade was 12-for-12 from the free throw line. For all the hype around the Big Three, Wade remembers he was the Biggest One in Miami. He still plays that way and the Heat needed all of his all-around excellence against the scrappy Sixers.
Chris Bosh scored 19 points for the Heat, who rallied from an early 10-point deficit to move within one win of a sweep of the Eastern Conference series.
Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.
"This is what we envisioned," James said.
James gave the Heat a late scare when he fell late in the fourth quarter and briefly sat against the scorer's table. He grimaced when his teammates pulled him up and he slowly walked back to Miami's bench.
James brushed off questions about a possible tender ankle, said he was fine and will be ready for Sunday.
"We're a desperate team right now," James said. "We want to continue to play that way. D-Wade had an unbelievable game ... and we're ready to close it out."
The Sixers were determined to win one on their home court and played like a team trying all it could to get the series back to Miami.
Lou Williams missed a 3 with 43 seconds left that would have made it a one-point game. Holiday scored 20 points, Williams finished with 15 and Elton Brand had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers.
TRAIL BLAZERS 97, MAVERICKS 92: At Portland, Ore., Wesley Matthews scored 25 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 20 as the Trail Blazers beat Dallas to trim their first-round playoff deficit to 2-1.
Andre Miller and Brandon Roy added 16 points apiece for Portland, which led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Jason Terry scored 29 points on the strength of five 3-points, and Dirk Nowitzki had 25 with nine rebounds for Dallas, but no other Mavs player scored more than nine points.