Saturday, October 5th, 2013 at 7:00 PM EDT at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 76, Bulls 82
by Scott Agness | October 5, 2013
The atmosphere felt nothing like the night it was – the first exhibition contest of the season. Wearing their gold uniforms, the Pacers hosted the Chicago Bulls to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in what was the marquee contest on the first day of games in the NBA. A strong third quarter put the Pacers ahead by six, but they went ice cold in the fourth and the Bulls prevailed, 82-76.
The excitement took on a new level because not only were these division rivals doing battle, but each team had a key player returning to the fold. Just six months removed from his left knee surgery, Danny Granger was the first Pacers player off the bench and led the team in minutes. Meanwhile, most of the NBA was abuzz as Bulls point guard Derrick Rose made his triumphant return to the floor. It was his first game in 526 days.
Rose’s return was met with mixed reactions in Indy as there was a notable Chicago crowd on hand to witness his first game back. Three minutes in, he scored his first points on a rebound put-back after Roy Hibbert made things difficult on his initial try.
On the Pacers side, midway through the first Danny Granger checked in for Lance Stephenson and it took nearly five minutes for him to get involved with the starters. After missing his first two attempts, Granger’s 3-pointer from the left corner 65 seconds into the second quarter fell, much to his relief.
Rookie Solomon Hill’s steal and layup gave the Pacers a six-point lead, but then the Bulls went on a 14-2 run over the next five minutes. A David West jumper narrowed the gap to three, 44-41, as the first half concluded.
The intensity of the game, with bragging rights on the line, went to another level in the third quarter. Paul George, who scored 10 in the period, rifled up a 3-pointer and it dropped, giving the Pacers a 58-50 lead, part of a 9-0 run when Rose checked out for good. George then picked up his fourth and fifth foul, forcing him to take a seat on the bench. The Pacers outscored the Bulls by nine in the third and carried a six-point edge into the final stanza.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau played his bench players for the final 12 minutes and because they were within a basket or two, Vogel allowed his starters to remain in to fight for it. With 3:34 to play, George picked up his sixth foul to end his night. Chris Copeland made his debut with 2:58 left and in less than a minute he attempted three 3s, but none fell.
The Pacers missed 14-of-16 field goals in the final quarter and as a result, they lost their sixth consecutive preseason game to the Bulls.
“We still got some work to do, obviously. I saw a lot of good things, but clearly in the game transition defense wasn’t good enough and our defense rebounding wasn’t good enough.” – Frank Vogel
“He looked a little rusty, clearly. And I wouldn’t expect anything besides that. What I saw is he looked healthy. He looked like he was moving fine, cutting fine, playing hard and the game timing and game conditioning is part of this month’s process of what we call ‘the final phase of his recover.’” – Frank Vogel on Danny Granger
“It was a good first step. My second wind didn't kick in during the first half like it usually does, but it was good to get that under my belt. … I'm still testing (my knee) and trying to figure out things on it, but to play 28 minutes, that's not far from a regular game.” – Danny Granger
“It was funny, I was kind of nervous. I felt my kids on the first day of school. I’ve been playing with different teams and I’ve played a lot of games so I don’t know why it happened but it did happen. I didn’t have a good game at all but it was very fun to be out there and to get a first taste of the team and play with my teammates.” – Luis Scola
“I thought they were just a little bit more scrappier than we were. Obviously I thought our defense forced them into some tough shots and they were at the second bounce, in terms of the glass. That’s stuff we can correct.” – David West
“It was fun, especially [after] beating up on these guys all week and taking a beating from these guys, to play somebody else, it was fun. Especially with the atmosphere. It kind of felt like a little rivalry and a little playoff action was there.” – Paul George
Stat of the Game
The Bulls controlled the inside game. They outscored the Pacers 32-24 in the paint and were +18 on the glass.
- Bulls center Joakim Noah (groin injury) did not dress for the game and ex-Pacer Dahntay Jones did not see the court. Former Pacers player Mike Dunleavy, Jr. scored four points in 22 minutes.
- The Pacers media relations department credentialed 50-plus media members for tonight’s game, more than the double the usual number for a preseason game.
The Pacers are flying out after tonight's game, headed to Asia to take part in the NBA Global Games. They’ll play the Houston Rockets twice - first Thursday in the Philippines, and then Sunday in Taiwan.