Scott Burrell was about 15 minutes late to the United Center, and you could tell he was a bit nervous upon his arrival. At least he wasn't 45 minutes late.

Dennis Rodman strolled into the locker room about 55 minutes before tipoff despite rules specifying that all players arrive 90 minutes before tipoff. Apparantly Bulls management forgot to ink in a on-time clause in Rodman's contract along with the no-ejection clause.Did his tardiness have anything to do with the Worm's poor performance? He recorded five fouls, one technical, and only pulled down seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Probably not, since Rodman's late virtually every game.

Perhaps Rodman lost his train of thought opening the game on the bench. Just prior to game time, Bulls coach Phil Jackson opted to start Toni Kukoc over Rodman. Kukoc had 19 points and seven assists.

"I'll always make that decision before each game each night," Jackson said. "Sometimes it's just an impulse."

Impulses like those put rings on fingers.

WHY PANIC: In Wednesday's Chicago Tribune, it listed five reasons why Bulls fans should panic.: 1. The Bulls failed to close out two winnable games on the road; 2. They're getting old - and they looked it; 3. They took a beating, and they had only one day to recuperate; 4. Indiana's superior depth is wearing them down; 5. Well-rested Utah awaits, with home-court advantage.

last night's thrashing of the Pacers obviously proves the panic button in the Bulls locker room was never pushed. The fifth reason, however, still looms large.

GAINING CONTROL: With all the whining about the officiating that's gone on this series, all eyes were on the men with the whistles.

It became clear there would be no indecision last night. Just minutes into the game, Scottie Pippen was slapped with a technical for griping at the refs, as was Rodman in the second quarter.

Chris Mullin was whistled for a flagrant foul in the first quarter as well.

"the refs came out very firmly right away and took control of the game," Jackson said.

Ironically, despite Bird's criticism about his team's lack of aggression, the Pacers still managed to get to the line 46 times. He was quick to point out that 27 of those came after halftime.

WAS IT A SIGN: At halftime, as the Bulls blimp circled the United Center dropping hats, the blimp suddenly started nose diving into the crowd. Some Pacers fans on the front row joked that it was a sign.

They were convinced Chicago was about to blow its 57-32 lead. Yeah, and Michael Jordan's never had a call go his way.

WHO ME? After picking up one foul during his four minutes of action in the first half, the last thing on Bill Wennington's mind was fouling out. That's exactly what happened though.

With all the starters relaxing comfortably on the bench, Wennington was on the court dazzling the Pacers with his offense - he scored eight points. His defense left little to be desired though. He fouled out in just 15 minutes.

As he walked toward the bench, Jordan started talking trash with him. Wennington kept pleading with Jordan that he didn't foul him though.