Bulls dominate Pacers to take playoff series

CHICAGO — Derrick Rose scored 25 points, Luol Deng added 24 and the Chicago Bulls finally played like a top seed, knocking off the Indiana Pacers 116-89 in Game 5 to wrap up their first-round playoff series Tuesday night.

The top-seeded Bulls can breathe a little easier after getting a dominant performance by their MVP candidate and an emphatic win that came on the heels of four dramatic games.

They can also turn their attention to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they’ll meet Atlanta or Orlando.

Rose seemed just fine after spraining his left ankle in Game 4, hitting 8 of 17 shots. He dominated in the early going and came up big in the third after the Pacers pulled within four. He scored 10 points over the final six minutes, and Chicago ended the quarter on a 23-8 run to blow the game open.

The Bulls hit 14 of 31 3-pointers, including five by Keith Bogans and three each by Deng and Rose. Deng also had seven assists and six rebounds.

Joakim Noah added 14 points and eight rebounds, and the Bulls won a playoff series for the first time since they swept Miami in the first round in 2007, even though Carlos Boozer scored just two.

Danny Granger scored 20 for the Pacers. Tyler Hansbrough added 14 points and 11 rebounds, but the Pacers trailed the entire way and committed 21 turnovers.

The Pacers had just scored seven straight to pull within 61-57 midway through the third when Rose and the Bulls put them away.

Things took a nasty turn in the closing seconds when Josh McRoberts threw an elbow at Noah and got ejected.

The two were starting to run the other way after a missed 3-pointer by Rose. McRoberts swung his right elbow at Noah and missed, but he got called for the flagrant foul 2 and got tossed.

Where the Bulls go from here remains to be seen. Anything less than a deep run would be a disappointment, and the Bulls can exhale for now.

The Pacers, meanwhile, can take some satisfaction knowing that they improved in the latter half of the season, pushing the Bulls before bowing out.