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So far this season, Indiana Pacers defense not as sturdy as past years

Steve Aschburner

Steve Aschburner

CHICAGO — The Pacers acknowledged their era of “smash mouth” defense was over when coach Frank Vogel, who favored that style when he had Roy Hibbert (and to a lesser extent Ian Mahinmi) in the middle, was fired last spring. The mandate from upstairs called for more offense, and it was supported by offseason moves that brought Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young aboard, with Myles Turner moving into a bigger role at center.

Consider this, then, Lesson No. 473 in “be careful what you wish for.”

Indiana scored a bunch – 112 points – in its first two games against Dallas and Brooklyn this week. It also gave up a bunch – 112 points, to be exact, in splitting those games against the Mavs and the Nets. Defending pick-and-rolls was a particular concern.

Then came their visit to the United Center Saturday to face the Chicago Bulls and the defense did not improve. During the Pacers’ 118-101 lost, Indiana lacked energy and crispness defensively, and let a Bulls team have a 30-14 advantage on fast-break points.

After allowing Dallas and Brooklyn to shoot 81 3-pointers and made 28, the Pacers were getting beat from the arc Saturday too. The Bulls – despite relying on players with modest reputations as 3-point shooters – had made nine of their 21.

As happy as all-NBA Paul George must to see the offensive weapons around him these days, the Pacers’ – and one of the league’s – best two-way players won’t be pleased by the lack of results he and his teammates are getting at the other end.

Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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