Pacers Edge Bulls as Gordon is Too Late
Indiana 91, Chicago 89
CHICAGO, Jan. 14 (Ticker) -- On the last two possessions of the game, Ben Gordon was a fraction of a second too late.
Gordon was burned for the go-ahead layup by Anthony Johnson with 3.9 seconds left, then had his potential tying runner beaten by the buzzer as the Chicago Bulls absorbed a disheartening 91-89 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
"We got off to a good start, then our fouls busted up our rhythm the whole game," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We just kept searching for combinations and went small at the end. We got it close then we just fell asleep."
Andres Nocioni's second three-point play down the stretch pulled Chicago within 89-87 with 42 seconds to go. After Indiana's Stephen Jackson missed a jumper, Kirk Hinrich ran down the rebound and was fouled. His two free throws tied the game with 18 seconds remaining.
The Pacers again went to Jackson. From the left wing, he zipped a pass underneath to Johnson, who had beaten Gordon cutting along the baseline, caught the ball and flipped in a shot over his head while drawing a foul, bringing groans from the crowd.
"They had some type of mixup on their alignment on the weak side," Johnson said. "So I was just able to creep along the baseline and nobody picked me up. I was able to make a cut and get to the basket. Stephen made a great pass and I was able to make the basket."
Gordon had another view of the play that led to the winning basket.
"I was kind of watching to see what Jackson did," Gordon said. "I was watching and turning my head, and he caught me looking at Jackson too long. Johnson just came under the hoop and got the layup."
Johnson, who made his first six free throws, missed from the line, giving the Bulls a chance to tie or win.
Gordon, who won the 2005 Sixth Man Award primarily for his fourth-quarter heroics, took the inbounds pass above the arc and beat Fred Jones with a strong dribble into the lane. He rose and launched a runner over the outstretched arm of rookie Danny Granger that splashed through.
However, the shot clearly was released after the buzzer, which replay confirmed.
"I thought I did release it in time," Gordon said. "I guess I should have pulled up and released it faster. I had only 2 1/2 seconds left, so I was just trying to put up the best shot I could."
Jackson scored 17 of his 29 points in the third quarter as the Pacers stormed back into the game. He matched Chicago's total for the period and gave Indiana a 71-68 lead entering the final 12 minutes.
"We just didn't have a good second half," Hinrich said. "In the third quarter we just let them back in the game. We are not playing as well together as we have in the past. We have to be smarter."
"We wanted to get the ball into Stephen Jackson's hands," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "He had been a major force for us the whole game."
Jermaine O'Neal scored 12 points before leaving with an injury for the Pacers, who have won four of their last six games.
"My ankle is still sore," O'Neal said. "My plan though is to try and play the next game, I'm walking with a little bit of a limp but I'll be all right. I am just proud of how our guys stepped it up to win the game."
Nocioni scored nine of his 15 points in the fourth quarter and Gordon added 13 for the Bulls, who had six players in double figures..
"The problem is we started the second half like five blind men," said Skiles, whose team held a 51-43 halftime lead. "We were not executing or talking to each other. Maybe we think one good half is good enough for us right now. We have to get it rectified."