Hansbrough, George bright spots in Pacers preseason opener
When your first preseason game also happens to be your next-to-last, it's difficult to know exactly what to expect -- and even harder to evaluate.
This much can be stated with both safety and certainty: when you go one-third of the game without a basket, good things are not going to happen -- no matter what time of year.
Despite the outcome, there were some bright spots in the Pacers' 95-86 loss to the Bulls Friday in Conseco Fieldhouse. Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George both showed regular-season readiness and impressive productivity, both posting double-doubles. Jeff Foster did what he does, yanking 10 rebounds in 18 minutes. The first unit generally held its own.
But the bench minutes ultimately proved problematic as two long dry spells ultimately proved Indiana's undoing. After missing 15 in a row in the second quarter to let an 11-point lead slip away, the Pacers missed 13 in a row as Chicago seized control with a 15-1 run bridging the third and fourth periods to take an 81-72 lead.
Each of those cold spells lasted more than eight minutes, meaning the Pacers went one-third of the game without a basket.
Inside the Numbers
Hansbrough had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Pacers. George had 17 points and 10 boards. Roy Hibbert had 14 points and seven rebounds and Darren Collison 12 points and four assists. Danny Granger scored 12 but shot 5-of-17. The Pacers shot 33.7 percent as a team with the reserves combining to shoot 4-of-23 from the floor. Chicago held a 41-12 advantage in bench scoring.
Derrick Rose led the Bulls with 16 points and four assists. Luol Deng scored 16, C.J. Watson 15, Taj Gibson 12 with nine rebounds off the bench and Joakim Noah 10 with eight rebounds. The Bulls shot 49.3 percent but committed 24 turnovers.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel: "I’m encouraged by what I’m seeing on the court. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of cleanup to do. Tyler (Hansbrough) didn’t skip a beat from day one of training camp. He didn’t look like he was coming out of a lockout."
George: "It felt pretty good to get out there and knock heads with somebody other than my teammates. I worked on some facets of my game this summer and I think it showed somewhat tonight. "
Hansbrough: "I worked very hard this summer to improve my game overall, shooting, defending and rebounding. I want to have the toughness and the edge to be a force this year. I am hoping to continue to work hard and improve and get off on the right foot."
Rose: "They’re just a good team. There is no other way to put it. When you play good teams, most of the time the games are going to be ugly. It’s the same thing, we make it tough on them and it makes them look ugly. We know each other so well.”
The Pacers got off to a hot start, making 6-of-8 out of the gate in jumping to a 15-4 lead. and maintaining it throughout a lively, energetic and aggressive first quarter. With Hansbrough scoring 10, the Pacers had a 33-22 lead after one. Rose picked up his second foul less than two minutes into the game but Watson stepped in and scored 10 for the Bulls.
Things went south quickly in the second period with the second unit on the floor as the Pacers missed their first 15 shots in a span of nearly eight minutes as the Bulls put together a 19-5 run to take a 43-40, and it was 52-47 at the break. The Pacers shot 2-of-23 and committed six turnovers in the quarter but were able to keep it close with frequent trips to the free throw line. Indiana had to offset inefficiency with volume, as they were 17-of-25 from the stripe (68 percent).
With the starters back on the floor for much of the third quarter, the Pacers regained their stride, using a 16-4 run to take a 71-66 lead late in the quarter. Six different players scored buckets in the run, which was sandwiched by a three-point play by Collison and a 3-point shot by Granger.
That was when the Bulls began their game-changing run, fueled by Gibson's play inside.
Hill left the game briefly in the second quarter after getting a shot to the face, resulting in a bloody lower lip. He finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting in 20 minutes. … Vogel used the same lineup that finished last season -- Collison, George, Granger, Hansbrough and Hibbert. … David West, who signed Tuesday and began practicing Wednesday, did not play. He may be in uniform for the preseason finale Tuesday in Chicago. … The Pacers' other free agent acquisition, forward Jeff Pendergraph, also was out due to a sore knee. He is not expected to play Tuesday.
The Pacers and Bulls meet again, this time Tuesday in Chicago (8 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana) in the finale of the truncated preseason for both teams.