Bulls even series
In between, he dominated in spurts. He struggled at times, too.
In the end, all that mattered was this: The Bulls and Hawks are now tied.
Rose scored 25 points, Joakim Noah added 19 points and 14 rebounds, and Chicago beat Atlanta 86-73 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night to knot this series.
The top-seeded Bulls shook off a dismal performance in the opener and looked more like the team with a league-high 62 wins, building a 14-point lead and ending the game on a 9-2 run after the Hawks got within six.
Now, the series shifts to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4 Friday and Sunday, with Chicago at least in better shape after a 103-95 loss in Game 1.
Rose, meanwhile, can focus on the task at hand. The past few days were a blur for the Chicago product, with the news about his MVP breaking, the formal announcement on Tuesday and the presentation with Stern before the opening tip.
“I’m just happy that it’s over now, and we can just ball out,” Rose said.
The superstar point guard showed just why he became the youngest player to win the award—at least in the first half, when he scored 16 points.
He went cold after that and wound up hitting just 10 of 27 shots, going 1 of 8 on 3-pointers. He did convert 4 of 6 free throws after failing to get to the line in the opener.
, and he insisted the left ankle he sprained in the opening round against Indiana and twisted at the end of Game 1 in this series is fine.
At times, he seemed more aggressive, but the shots stopped falling.
“Shots I normally hit, they just didn’t fall tonight,” Rose said. “The way that they’re playing me, I’m going to continue to shoot.”
The Hawks are sagging off him, daring him to hit from the outside.
To that, Rose said, “Things are going to change.”
Noah helped pick up the slack. So did Luol Deng, who scored all but two of his 14 points in the second half and grabbed 12 rebounds in the game.