Bulls come up big down the stretch for win over Pacers

The Bulls set the pace early and then in the last seconds got a key jumper from Nikola Mirotic and a steal and score from Dwyane Wade to defeat the Indiana Pacers 90-85.

The Bulls broke their three-game losing streak and moved to 15-16. The Pacers fell to 15-17.

The Bulls were led by Wade with 21 points and Mirotic with 20 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Jimmy Butler had 16 points, Taj Gibson and Jerian Grant 10 each and Robin Lopez with eight points and 12 rebounds. The Bulls had the edge in second chance points 14-3 and 15-6 on fast breaks. They won the fourth quarter for the second time in the last 17 games.

The Bulls got Michael Carter-Williams back from knee and wrist injuries after missing 27 games. But Doug McDermott went out with a shin injury. But the Bulls came out high stepping with a big time energy boost from Rondo, who had seven rebounds in the first quarter and three offensive rebounds on one possession that led to a Mirotic three pointer. That sequence gave the Bulls a 22-14 lead after a swift start that saw Wade get eight first quarter points and Mirotic seven. The Bulls went on to lead 28-19 after the first quarter. The alacrity in the offense continued into the second quarter with Carter-Williams adding a player to push the ball as the Bulls took a 36-25 lead four minutes into the second quarter after Wade took the ball from Glenn Robinson and scored on a fast break. The Pacers hit the Bulls back with nine straight, but the Bulls didn’t back off with a nice boost from Grant with a three and steal on the inbounds that led to a Gibson score inside and 49-36 Bulls lead with 3:15 left in the half. The Bulls led at halftime 51-41 with 14 points from Mirotic.

The Bulls went cold to open the second half, missing five of their first six attempts with the Pacers cutting the Bulls lead to 53-48. The Bulls then got their defense sharp again. Another nice follow score from Lopez and Butler barging into the basket enabled the Bulls to regain a double digit lead at 61-49 with three minutes left in the third quarter. But the Bulls failed to score a field goal in the last six minutes of the third quarter while former Bulls Aaron Brooks hit the Bulls for a driving score, a jumper and a three to bring the Pacers within 63-61 heading into the fourth quarter. The Pacers then tied the game at 64 on another Brooks three. But Mirotic gave the Bulls a boost with an aggressive sequence on the defensive boards. A Wade driving score put the Bulls ahead 71-64 with 8:19 left. The fourth quarter woes continued, however, with the Pacers scoring eight straight to get back within two at 76-74. Grant then pump faked and made a three for a 79-74 Bulls lead with 4:52 left. But Indiana came right back and the Bulls were hanging onto an 82-78 lead with 2:29 remaining. Carter-Williams closing the game had a clever assist to Taj Gibson for a jumper with 52.4 seconds left for an 86-82 Bulls lead.