GAME NIGHT FROM INDIANAPOLIS: Bulls (3-19, 1-11 on the road) at Indiana (13-11, 7-4 at home) 6PM CT
TV: NBC Sports Chicago: Neil Funk and Stacey King: 6PM CT
RADIO: WLS 890AM: Chuck Swirsky, Bill Wennington, Steve Kashul. 5:30 CT pre.
LEADING SCORERS: Bulls: Holiday and Markkanen: 14ppg. Indiana: Oladipo: 23ppg.
LEADING REBOUNDERS: Bulls: Markkanen: 8. Indiana: Sabonis: 8.
LEADING ASSISTS: Bulls: Grant: 4. Indiana: Collison: 6.
LAST MEETING: Indiana 105 Bulls 87. Oladipo 25 points, six rebounds, six assists. Portis: 20 points 11 rebounds. Markkanen: 12 points 10 rebounds. Indiana scored 35- third quarter points to propel the Pacers to a win.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Victor Oladipo is not only having a break out season averaging 23 points per game (15th in the NBA) -he’s having an All Star type season. No longer in the shadow of Russell Westbrook after a brief stop in Oklahoma City, Oladipo is thriving in the Hoosier state where he starred at Indiana University. At the time of the Paul George trade to the Thunder, Indiana was severely criticized for not receiving enough in return from OKC. I beg to differ. George had one year left on his contract. He wanted out. Indiana is in a semi rebuilding platform and they received two young pieces with upside in Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in return. I’m a big fan of Sabonis who was a lottery pick by Orlando and traded to OKC on draft day. He’s young and still adjusting to the NBA but there is a ton of promise. He already has seven double-doubles on the season, averaging 12 points and nearly nine rebounds per game. The Bulls must take care of business and not allow Bojan Bogdanovic to go off as he did at the United Center when he drilled six-threes. He was the star of Indiana’s victory.
CCI 24 SECONDS COMMENTARY. When you lose nine in a row as the Bulls have, most teams point fingers..this club has not. The character of the locker room is full of integrity and inner strength. This is a very young group and they’re doing their best to make the right plays. No excuses. They get it. When they get down they tend to play iso ball not out of greed but hoping to be the player to get the club on track. Fred Hoiberg and the staff continue to encourage the players to pass the ball, play with energy and effort a full 48.
MIROTIC UPDATE: Niko’s 2017-18 season debut will wait for another day. He will NOT play tonight against the Pacers.
BACK IN INDIANA: Every time I walk the streets of Indiana, the movie “Hoosiers” comes to mind. I can’t believe it’s been what 20-25 years since it was released? I could watch that movie weekly and I would never tire of it. It’s more than a basketball movie. Gene Hackman was tremendous. ESPN.com just did a major profile on the movie, actors, etc. It’s a great read.
NBA NEWS AND NOTES
The Raps go to 9-1 at home scoring 126 points on Phoenix as Kyle Lowry scored 20 and dished out 10.
Bradley Beal with a career high 51 as the Wizards bounced back from a painful loss in Utah to beat the Blazers.
The Thunder down by 17 in the second half rallied behind Russell Westbrook’s seventh triple double of the season. OKC needed a win and they got one. Meantime, Utah’s prime time ready guard, Donovan Mitchell, was spectacular pouring in 31. He’s the first Jazz rookie to score at least 20 or more points in four consecutive games. The last member of the Jazz fraternity to do so? Darrell Griffith in 1980-81. For millennials..Google his name...the guy could flat out hoop and hop.
Steph Curry will be re-evaluated in two weeks.... in other words..no time table for his return. Curry sustained a right ankle sprain Monday night against the Pelicans. More shots for KD, Draymond, Klay...everyone is happy and Curry will be rested when he returns.
Big time loss for the Knicks as Tim Hardaway has been sidelined for at least two weeks. He’s begun treatment and rehabilitation for a stress injury of the lower left leg.
Devin Booker suffered a strained left adductor in the Suns loss at Toronto. We will monitor the situation. Without Booker for any extended period of time, the Suns are a lock for a high lottery pick.
NBA TV continues to deliver its most-watched live game telecasts since 2011; +34% over last year’s comparable coverage.
Always a pleasure!