Bulls lose to Pacers, 125-86

The Bulls Saturday appeared to get into the spirit of the famous Indianapolis 500 auto race. The Bulls played pace car while the Indiana Pacers were A.J. Foyt in a 125-86 Indiana turbo throttling. Did anyone say restart?

It was, at least recently, a rare uncompetitive game for the Bulls, complicated by the Bulls closing a back to back and fifth in seven nights while the Pacers, with five consecutive losses, hadn’t played since Wednesday.

The Bulls were routinely beaten to loose balls and second shots and stripped of the ball for multiple turnovers that became scores as the Pacers came out pressing, indicative of the advantage they believed they’d have. By early in the fourth quarter, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was using non rotation players like Quincy Pondexter. The Pacers had a 41-point lead in the third quarter.

Bobby Portis led the Bulls with 15 points. Lauri Markkaken and Denzel Valentine had 13 points and Robin Lopez had 10. Kris Dunn had eight points, eight assists and four turnovers. Victor Oladipo led Indiana with 23 points, nine assists, six rebounds and five steals in 24 minutes. Pacers 6-2 backup point guard Cory Jospeh was the game’s leading rebounder with 10. Indiana shot 56 percent and made 15 of 31 threes.

The Bulls fell to 14-26 and play Houston Monday in the United Center. The Pacers are 20-19.

The Bulls were hoping to sweep the back to back set after the thrilling 127-124 victory in Dallas Friday. Though it became a game in which the Bills seemed to appear satisfied to have gotten one Friday. Dunn was coming off his career high 32 points with the Bulls offense clicking, averaging 118 points per game in the last five going into Saturday. The Bulls had been struggling at the free throw line, but came up clutch Friday with Justin Holiday’s eight straight in the last minute to save the game. Holiday came in averaging 24.5 the last two games. His shot deserted him Saturday as he was one of nine on threes. Oladipo was back for Indiana after missing four games with a knee problem and NBA veteran Damien Wilkins, who hasn’t played in the NBA for four years, got a start for Indiana. The Bulls appeared to feeling the effects of the schedule after a competitive start with Dunn and Lopez connecting on three consecutive screen and roll plays. A Valentine three gave the Bulls a 17-15 lead. But some casual passing enabled Oladipo to collect three consecutive steals—five in the quarter—for an 11-0 run. The Pacers led 31-19 before the Bulls tightened with seven straight points to end the quarter trailing 31-26. The Bulls shot 59 percent, but sloppy play and poor defensive rebounding enabled the Pacers to get eight more shots. Assistant coach Jim Boylen was assessed a technical foul for arguing a questionable second foul on Dunn. Lopez would add a technical later, a combination of Bulls frustration, passivity and ineffectiveness. The Pacers’ hustle superior to the Bulls was obvious with nine second chance points by early in the second quarter as Indiana took a 38-28 lead with 9:26 left in the half. It was an ugly stretch for Jerian Grant with a turnover, a pair of wild drives that missed and a three in five empty Bulls possessions as the Pacers surged ahead 43-28 and Hoiberg substituted four players. Grant ended up shooting zero for 11 in the game. But the romp continued with three more Bulls misses and yet another Bulls timeout trailing 46-28. The Bulls went on to trail 64-37 at halftime with Valentine the Bulls high scorer with seven points. The Bulls with four of 22 second quarter shooting fell into too deep a cavern to recover.

The Bulls opened the third quarter with five consecutive points, which would be about as close as they would get the rest of the game. Oladipo scored seven consecutive points, Wilkins hit a pair of three pointers and then Domatas Sabonis off the bench was outworking and outscoring the entire usually reliable Bulls reserve group with three layups and a three as the Pacers took a 101-67 lead after three quarters.