Chicago Bulls' Joakim Noah blocks a shot by the Indiana Pacers' Lou Admundson and is called for a foul during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Monday, March 5, 2012. Bulls' Taj Gibson is at right. (AP Photo/Charles Cherney)
Luol Deng scored 20 points, teaming with Derrick Rose in a decisive third-quarter rally that sent the Chicago Bulls to their seventh straight victory, 92-72 over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night.
Rose added 13 points and nine assists, hitting three 3-pointers while Deng had two in the third as the Bulls blew open a close game.
Joakim Noah had 17 rebounds to lead the Bulls to a dominating 60-32 edge on the boards. Chicago outscored the Pacers 20-4 on second-chance points. John Lucas III scored 13 points, one of three Chicago reserves in double figures.
Paul George scored 21 points for Indiana, which had a six-game winning streak snapped. George Hill scored 17 points off the bench.
The Bulls improved their league-best record to 32-8. Chicago stretched its lead to 2 1/2 games over Miami atop the Eastern Conference and to seven games over Indiana in the Central Division.
The Pacers were trying to win a seventh straight for the first time in eight years.
Chicago avenged a 95-90 loss to the Pacers on Jan. 25, one of just two home losses this season. Rose was irked after that game because of what he perceived to be Indiana's excessive celebration on the court after the game ended, saying "I can't wait till we play them again."
Bulls guard Richard Hamilton left the game after just 1:23 had elapsed with a right shoulder injury. He did not return.
Indiana led by three two minutes into the second half when the Bulls went on a 20-4 spree that featured a pair of nine-point runs. After starting the game by missing nine of his first 10 shots, Rose capped the first run with a 3-pointer to put Chicago up 53-47.
Indiana closed within four before Chicago hit three consecutive 3-pointers, one by Rose and the last two by Deng. His long one from straight on as the shot clock expired put Chicago up by 13.
The Bulls extended the lead to 19 by the time their third-quarter burst ended. Chicago outscored the Pacers 32-14 in the period, held Indiana to 6-of-22 shooting and outrebounded the Pacers 18-7. Rose had 11 points and five assists to lead the charge.
Rose rested for the entire fourth quarter as Indiana could get no closer than 13 points.
The Pacers took a one-point halftime lead after a tight, ragged first half that featured 13 lead changes. George, who led Indiana with 11 points before the half, scored six straight on a layup, dunk and two free throws late in the second quarter to give Indiana the lead it carried into the break.
Rose scored just two points before the break, shooting 1 for 9 from the floor. His backup, Lucas III, scored nine points off the bench to lead the Bulls in first-half scoring.