Bulls Hope to Reach .500, Host Pacers
Posted Nov 11 2006 10:32AM
After an impressive win to the start the season, the Chicago Bulls have looked anything but. They'll try to reach .500 on Saturday when they host the Indiana Pacers at the United Center.
Chicago (2-3) looked like the team projected to be a contender in the Eastern Conference after opening the season with an emphatic 108-66 rout Oct. 31 of reigning NBA champion Miami. Since that impressive start, wins have been hard to come by for the Bulls, who have not displayed the same energy as that first game.
That was evident in Thursday's 113-94 road loss to Cleveland. The Bulls allowed the Cavaliers to shoot 57.0 percent from the field (45-for-79) and record 38 assists. Chicago also was outrebounded 40-22 on the defensive end.
``They pretty much had their way with us,'' Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. ``They went right through our defense and we couldn't get anything going. We couldn't stop any part of their lineup.''
Ben Wallace had just five rebounds for the second time this season, and Ben Gordon was held to two points one game after scoring 37 in a 110-85 win Monday over Milwaukee.
Chicago is 1-1 at home this season but has won six of its last eight against Indiana at the United Center. The Pacers, however, won the last meeting in Chicago, 102-96 on Apr. 4.
The Pacers (4-2) will have forward Jermaine O'Neal in the lineup against Chicago. O'Neal, who sat out Wednesday's loss to Washington with a sore left ankle, totaled nine points and 11 rebounds Friday as Indiana beat Orlando 93-83 at home.
Al Harrington, who spent his first six years with the Pacers and is back after two years with the Atlanta Hawks, tied a season high with 32 points. Harrington also scored 32 the last time he faced Chicago in a 95-90 loss Mar. 11 while with the Hawks.
Harrington is averaging 18.8 points this season, slightly better than his career-high average of 18.6 last season with the Hawks and more than five points better than his best season with the Pacers, with whom he averaged 13.3 points in the 2003-04 season.
The 26-year-old Harrington is fine with his effort, but is more concerned about the team's success.
``If we put a product out there where we're successful and winning, we're going to win our fans back and get them back in here,'' he said. ``That's my goal through my play. I just want to help bring that excitement back to Indianapolis.''
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle believes more games like the one Harrington played Friday could make him a crowd pleaser.
``It is great for him to have an opportunity to have a game like this so that he can feel the love,'' Carlisle said. ``We couldn't have won without him tonight.''
Indiana has won 18 of the last 25 meetings between against Chicago, and the teams split the four-game series last season.
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