CHICAGO -- After watching the top-seeded Chicago Bulls struggle to put away the Indiana Pacers for three straight games, former Bulls star Scottie Pippen believes they need to take a tougher stance heading into Game 4 on Saturday afternoon at United Center.
"You don't want to get out of character and start doing things that are not a part of you, but someone has to step up and give a hard foul," Pippen said on "The Sports Reporters" on ESPN 1000 Saturday morning. "The Bulls have taken too many hard fouls in this series thus far, and have yet to give one.
"Being one of the No. 1 defensive teams in the league, at some point you have to make a stand and I think that's what the Bulls have to do."
Kyle Korver said Friday that Pippen had talked with the team about the subject after Thursday's Game 3. Pippen wouldn't say exactly what he said in the Bulls' locker room, but did say he talked about getting tougher in the playoffs.
"It's protecting your lane," Pippen said. "I think the Bulls have allowed the Pacers to get too many layups in this series and they have struggled to get layups. Derrick Rose has done a tremendous job in this series as far as taking the ball to the basket, getting to the foul line. But he's paying a price for that.
"And I'm only telling those guys that you don't give up layups in the playoffs. You knock a guy down and you make them go to the foul line and earn it, and that's what Derrick's doing for the Bulls. And to me, it's an eye for an eye."
Rose has shot 49 free throws in the three games, just 13 fewer than the entire Pacers team.
On Friday, the NBA upgraded two hits Pacers center Jeff Foster leveled during Game 3, one on Rose and one on Luol Deng, making them both Flagrant 1 fouls. A Flagrant 1 is considered less severe than a Flagrant 2 foul, which calls for an automatic ejection from the game. Two Flagrant 1 fouls in a game also call for an ejection.
Pippen believes some of his teammates could be protecting Rose more.
"They've all got two legs and two arms. You've got Carlos Boozer out there who's spending fouls and a lot of his fouls are not needed at the time that he's giving them," Pippen said. "Those could be hard fouls. Those could be fouls that you knock a [Darren] Collison to the floor, you knock a Foster to the floor. Utilize your fouls and make them more valuable for you and your team."
The Pacers' ability to push the Bulls has been somewhat troubling, but Pippen doesn't necessarily think it bodes ill for future series, should the Bulls put away the Pacers.
"I think that this Indiana Pacers team is playing with house money," Pippen said. "They're a very athletic team. They've came out and played some of the best basketball that they've played all season. This is not a team that's playing like an eight seed.
"I do expect the Bulls to play better going forward."