Friday, March 21, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 91, Bulls 79
Scott Agness | March 21, 2014
The talk inside the Pacers’ locker room over the last two days centered on ball movement and setting the screen to open opportunities up for their teammates. That’s what was further emphasized Friday night with the Chicago Bulls (38-31), their division rival, in town — and they all committed to the cause.
A revamped second unit created some separation in the second quarter and the starters later added the final blow with a 19-0 run in the third quarter. It’s just one win—the scoreboard showing a solid 91-79 winning score—but the Pacers (51-18) have started the process of playing at a dominant level.
For two defensive teams, offense was hard to come by in the early going as they started a combined 3-for-15 from the field. The Pacers shot just 33 percent in the period and had five turnovers, but only trailed by four points at the end of the first.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel tried something new to start the second: He kept Lance Stephenson on the bench, inserted Chris Copeland and moved Evan Turner to shooting guard to open the floor and called Turner’s number more often. That enthusiastic lineup thrived and ran off the first eight points to begin the quarter as the Bulls missed their first eight attempts. Copeland had a couple of blocks along with a memorable sequence where he sprinted back in transition and landed the rebound, then got the ball back at the other end and banged in a 3-pointer.
Luis Scola showed off his mid-range toughness, hitting six of his first eight shots for twelve first-half points, all scored in the second quarter. Scola led all scorers with a season-high 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting. After getting up seven, the Pacers’ lead shrank to just one, 44-43, as the Bulls concluded the half on an 8-2 spurt.
Indiana sprinted out of the half and used a 19-0 run to spring ahead by 18. They were hitting jump shots, whipping the ball around for even better ones and finishing at the rim. Emotions and calls in the game bothered the Pacers, however, and contributed to their only two turnovers in the quarter. Besides being hit with a technical foul, Lance Stephenson played exceptional in the third with 13 points.
The Pacers maintained a double-digit lead for all but 19 seconds in the final quarter when the Bulls put together an 8-0 run that was quickly slowed after a Pacers timeout. Tonight’s showing was Indiana’s best in more than a month, and just their first win over a team with a winning record since Feb. 7.
Inside the Numbers
All five starters scored in double figures for the 14th time (12-2) this season. Paul George recorded his second career regular season triple-double (third counting the playoffs) with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a season-high 10 assists. The Pacers have now tied the franchise record for the most triple-doubles in a season (5), matching the 1992-93 season total.
Roy Hibbert compiled his 15th double-double of the year with 12 points and 11 rebounds, his first double-double since Feb. 27. Evan Turner contributed six points and a seven assists, his largest total in a Pacers uniform.
Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 12 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in 38 minutes of work. Former Pacers guard D.J. Augustin and Jimmy Butler each scored 17 points. Mike Dunleavy’s five blocks are career-best.
The Pacers held an opponent below 80 points (79) for the first time since Feb. 3. The Bulls shot just 36 percent for the game.
“Really good win for our guys against a team that is playing as well as anybody in the NBA. … Very proud of the team approach and a willingness to share the basketball, play for each other.” – Frank Vogel
“I thought that was probably our best defensive game we’ve seen in quite some time. It’s been improving the last four or five games, our numbers have gotten around the 90 [points] mark and the 40 percent field goal defense mark, and limiting their 3-point shot. We did most of those things tonight.” – Frank Vogel
“His mindset was to be efficient. We had a talk yesterday. … When help came, he shared the basketball and there’s shot-makers around him and I think that’s growth.” – Frank Vogel on Paul George’s triple-double
“It wasn’t perfect tonight, but it felt like we were getting better.” – Paul George
“We really got to playing some defense and just surrounded the paint. I thought we did a great job of boxing out, not allowing second-chance baskets and Lance got out for some easy baskets for us.” – Paul George
“Maybe we haven’t been dealing with winning and being out front well enough. I thought we had a good day yesterday. We came in this morning and got some good work. We knew we had to play solid to beat this team.” – David West
“Hopefully this is a starting point and we do that for longer stretches. When you have success, you let a lot of things slip. Right now, we can’t let anything slip.” – Roy Hibbert on sharing the ball
“I don’t think we’re out of (a funk). We just had one good game. I believe in us, as much as anyone or more, but we just played one good game. If we continue to have that mentality, I think that’ll lead to more good games.” – Luis Scola
Stat of the Game
One game after having 12 assists, the Pacers responded by assisting on 27 of their 34 field goals.
- The Pacers have won four straight meetings over the Bulls in Indianapolis.
- Carlos Boozer was given a flagrant-1 foul for an elbow swing at the head of Roy Hibbert. For the Pacers, Frank Vogel, Lance Stephenson and Paul George all received technical fouls.
- Before the game, the Pacers announced that center Andrew Bynum is still experiencing soreness and is out indefinitely.
Saturday, March 21 at Memphis – 8 p.m. EST; Game Preview »