Monday, March 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM ET at the United Center
Game Rewind: Pacers 77, Bulls 89
The Pacers missed out on wrapping up their second straight Central Division title on their division rival's home floor Monday night in Chicago. Their offensive woes continued against the Bulls, the second-ranked defense in the NBA. They shot just 37 percent, failed to score more than 22 points in a quarter and thus were defeated, 89-77.
George Hill helped the Pacers jump off to a rare quick start, scoring nine of the team’s first 11 points. The Bulls, who shot 27 percent in the first period, then put together a run, 13-4, to which the Pacers answered with an 8-2 spurt to close the quarter. With the top two defensive teams in battle, it soon became clear that it was going to be a low-scoring affair.
Shortly into the second quarter, Evan Turner got an eight-footer to drop while drawing a foul from the Bulls' Jimmy Butler—his third personal foul. The Pacers, however, then hit a dry spell. They missed nine consecutive shots and went more than seven minutes between field goals. In the final seconds of the half and coming out of timeout, George Hill got left open and drilled his second 3-pointer of the game, sending the Pacers into the locker room in front, 34-33.
Neither team shot it well in the first half, particularly the Bulls, who were 1-for-10 from outside.
In just the opposite of Friday’s game between the two clubs, where the Pacers scored 19 straight points to help them surge ahead to a double-digit win, the Bulls started the half on a 14-3 run. They hit nine of their first eleven shots and their lead ballooned to a dozen. Playing mad, David West kept attacking the hoop and tallied ten of his 14 points in the quarter.
A momentum-swinging play occurred with a little more than four minutes left in the third. In transition, Paul George could’ve brought the Pacers to within four points with a layup over Kirk Hinrich. Instead, he got too fancy with it, didn’t go straight up and got stripped by Hinrich. Then, he threw his hands up in disgust, looking for the foul call. At the other end, Taj Gibson, who was more than a little fired up about fouling out in their last meeting, took out his frustration with a putback slam. And just like that, the Pacers went from possibly being down just four points to suddenly being down eight.
The opportunities were there for the taking by the Pacers, but they were unsuccessful. They got as close as six, 77-71, on a three-point play from George Hill partway through the fourth quarter, but could get no closer. The Bulls outscored the Pacers by 13 points in the second half and ensured they held serve with the Pacers in the season series at two games apiece.
Indiana’s offense has been sorely lacking lately and it has cost them. Heading into Wednesday’s clash at home with the Miami Heat, the Pacers have dropped three of four and consecutive games for just the fifth time this season. They hold a slim two-game lead over the Heat in the race for the number one seed in the East, making this matchup all the more important.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George led the Pacers with 21 points and George Hill scored 17 in the loss. David West was a rebound short of his ninth double-double of the season, with 14 points and nine caroms, plus four assists. Lance Stephenson added eight points and 10 rebounds.
Taj Gibson scored a game-high 23 points off the bench, three off his career high. It’s his twelfth 20-point game of the season. Four other Bulls finished in double figures: Kirk Hinrich contributed 18, and former Pacers player Mike Dunleavy had 13 points and eight rebounds.
Bulls center Joakim Noah put together a fantastic all-around performance: 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks. He’s had at least eight boards and four assists in a league-high 11 consecutive games.
After hitting their first three 3-point attempts, they were 1-for-7 the rest of the game. Conversely, the Bulls started 1-for-10 and finished 3-for-5.
Indiana falls to 7-16 when trailing after three quarters.
“It was a tough loss. Credit the Bulls on grinding it out. Taj Gibson was the big difference in the game off the bench. Our defense was not bad all night, but we struggled offensively. This was two really good defensive teams making things tough. It was a grind in there all night and a physical game.” – Frank Vogel
“We need to find our offensive rhythm. Yes, we got a lot of scores in Friday’s game in transition. We knew if we didn’t get a lot in transition tonight it would be a long night.” – Frank Vogel
“Sometimes we choose the wrong moments and try to do too much ourselves. I'm guilty of it too. However, we only have good intentions and are trying to get our offense going. Our execution is just not where it needs to be. Our screens, setting guys up, and moving without the ball are not there now. We need to do a better job playing with energy. This game tonight is not us.” – Paul George
“We’ve just got to learn... to play for each other like how we used to and set people up for easy shots. Everything we’re taking is very tough, contested shots. ... It’s just a lot of 1-on-1 basketball.” – Roy Hibbert
“Whatever we are doing offensively just hasn’t been working on a consistent basis.” – Roy Hibbert
“They kept hitting big shots and none were falling for us offensively. We tried to feed off our defense to get aggressive on offense but it ain’t work tonight.” – Lance Stephenson
Stat of the Game
The Pacers’ 11 assists are a new season low. Their assist total in each of the last five games: 13, 12, 27, 14, 11.
- Indiana is 2-13 in their last 15 games in Chicago, including the postseason.
- A double-technical was handed out to David West and Jimmy Butler in the third quarter.
- C.J. Watson, a former Bulls player, missed his sixth straight game due to a hamstring injury and Andrew Bynum remains out indefinitely.
The Pacers take on Eastern Conference rival, the Miami Heat, Wednesday, March 26 at 8 PM at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Find Tickets »