for this game

Rose leads Bulls to win

Dec 30, 2009 - 4:40 AM By RICK GANO AP Sports Writer

CHICAGO(AP) -- Vinny Del Negro has pledged to forge ahead as speculation about his job security rages.

And the Chicago Bulls took some of the heat off their coach Tuesday night with their highest scoring game of the season.

Derrick Rose scored 28 points, the Bulls recovered after blowing an early 19-point lead and beat the Indiana Pacers 104-95.

"There are no easy games for us. We know that," Del Negro said. "We have to play solid for 48 minutes or whatever it takes."

After blowing a 35-point lead last week against Sacramento, the Bulls made sure they didn't fade away Tuesday night, even after Indiana took its first lead in the third quarter.

Rose had 18 of his points in the second half and the Bulls used a 10-0 run in the third quarter to regain control.

Before the game, Bulls GM Gar Forman said it was against the team's philosophy to comment on reports that Del Negro would be fired. And asked if Del Negro would be the coach for the rest of the season, he said that all evaluations - players, staff and coaches - would be made internally.

Del Negro said he was just going to coach.

"My focus is the players and how to get them better and to play at the highest level possible," Del Negro said.

The Pacers, meanwhile, lost their seventh straight. Coach Jim O'Brien got a vote of confidence earlier in the week from team president Larry Bird, but Indiana fell behind by a big margin early for a third straight game.

"We're digging a hole," O'Brien said. "There's no other way of putting it. ... That start killed us."

Rose had 18 of his points in the second half. John Salmons added 17 for the Bulls.

Roy Hibbert scored 17 for Indiana, which is without injured star Danny Granger. The Pacers also played part of the third quarter and all of the fourth without second leading scorer Troy Murphy, who limped off with a sprained left ankle.

Mike Dunleavy hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the third as the Pacers got within a point. And when he tried for another from long range, he was fouled by Chicago's Taj Gibson behind the line and then made three straight free throws as the Pacers took their first lead of the game.

But after Murphy went to the locker room with Indiana ahead 72-71, the Bulls ran off 10 straight points as Salmons and Luol Deng connected on 3-pointers. That put Chicago up nine, and the Bulls extended the lead back to 13 with a quarter remaining.

Chicago went up 15 early in the fourth and withstood a last surge by the Pacers that cut it to nine. Rose scored 11 in the final period.

"Derrick was great. He took what they gave him," Deng said. "They couldn't stop him going to the basket and he kept attacking."

Deng and Kirk Hinrich scored 10 each in the first quarter and the Bulls made 10 of their first 14 shots to jump out to a big lead early. The Pacers missed 12 of their first 17 shots.

The Bulls pushed the advantage to 34-15 at the end of the period when Brad Miller sank a jumper with about five seconds to go.

Josh McRoberts, averaging 1.5 points a game, had a spectacular dunk on an alley-oop pass and also hit a 3-pointer, sparking a 23-8 run that helped the Pacers trim the lead to four by the half.

Notes: Murphy left with 5:57 to go in the third quarter. He managed only five points, nine under his average. ... Pacers rookie Tyler Hansbrough was unable to play because of an inner ear infection. ... Solomon Jones got his first start of the season for Indiana and had 13 points. ... Chicago's Tyrus Thomas, in his second game back after missing 22 with a fractured left radius, had 15 rebounds and got the crowd on its feet with back-to-back blocked shots in the fourth quarter.