Bulls vs. Pacers

Paul George scores 33 points and grabs eight rebounds to lead the Pacers past the visiting Bulls, 104-92.

Postgame 151127

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Bulls vs. Pacers

Paul George scores 33 points and grabs eight rebounds to lead the Pacers past the visiting Bulls, 104-92.
Nov 28, 2015  |  01:58

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room 151127

November 27, 2015 - Pacers players Paul George, Ian Mahinmi, and George Hill discuss Indiana's 104-92 win over the Chicago Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Nov 27, 2015  |  03:01

Paul George Leads The Way

Highlights from Paul George's 33 point, eight rebound performance Friday night.
Nov 27, 2015  |  00:36

Postgame: Frank Vogel Press Conference 151127

November 27, 2015 - After a 104-92 win over the Chicago Bulls, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel shares his thoughts on the victory.
Nov 27, 2015  |  11:33

Postgame: Bulls Locker Room 151127

November 27, 2015 - Chicago Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg and players Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, and Jimmy Butler discuss their 104-92 loss to the Pacers.
Nov 27, 2015  |  02:18

Four Point Opportunity

After Ian Mahinmi blocks the shot, C.J. Miles hits the three and draws the foul.
Nov 27, 2015  |  00:30

Defense To Offense

The Pacers turn up the defensive pressure and as a result, C.J. Miles ends up with the assist to George Hill on the break.
Nov 27, 2015  |  00:21

Monta Ellis Runs It Down

Monta Ellis runs down the loose ball to get the free path to the basket for the layup.
Nov 27, 2015  |  00:35

George With A Tough Shot

Paul George drives to the basket and hits the shot while falling down.
Nov 27, 2015  |  00:24

Hill, Mahinmi Reward Vogel's Faith

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Frank Vogel's defining characteristic as a head coach is an overwhelming optimism that enables him to maintain confidence in struggling players, even when the masses are calling for change.

When Sam Young had a disastrous showing in Game 1 of a playoff series against New York in 2013, Vogel stuck with him. When Roy Hibbert all but disappeared from view in the playoffs in 2014, Vogel stuck with him, at least as a member of the starting lineup. When C.J. Miles got off to a horrendous start as a shooter last season, Vogel stuck with him.

The Pacers' 104-92 victory over Chicago on Friday brought two more examples of Vogel's determined faith in his players, and two more rewards for it.

Ian Mahinmi, who had hit just five of 24 excruciating free throw attempts heading into the game, got to stay on the floor after missing his first two. He went on to his seven of his last eight. Solomon Hill, who had played meaningful minutes in just one of the first 14 games, got to play nearly 12 minutes and made vital contributions to the team's 10th victory over the last 12 games.

"I trust all these guys," Vogel said afterward, meaning the 13 players on his roster, not to mention the two playing for Fort Wayne's Development League team with Pacers contracts.

This particular group of Pacers is an increasingly complex mix of intriguing ingredients that complement one another and is easy to digest. After winning their two previous games, over Milwaukee and Washington, by hitting a combined 34-of-56 3-pointers, they beat the Bulls with defense and timely contributions that overcame their 8-of-28 shooting from the 3-point line. The bottom line is they have many weapons and many ways to win a game, as was obvious in Friday's victory before a sellout crowd.

Paul George scored 33 points on what seemed like an off night for him, and is averaging 30 over the last 11 games. C.J. Miles (16), Monta Ellis (14) and George Hill (10 rebounds, one turnover) all made significant contributions, and Lavoy Allen – given extra minutes because of the lower back pain that kept Jordan Hill out of the lineup – brought 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

But it was Mahinmi and Solomon Hill who wrote the best storylines in the closing chapter, after the Bulls had taken a 17-point lead down to four late in the third quarter.

That's when Hill got the call to enter the game and guard Chicago's 6-9 power forward, Taj Gibson. Hill gave up two inches in the matchup, but won it with timely contributions. Right away, he assisted on Allen's 21-footer. He followed by tipping the long rebound of Kirk Hinrich's jumper to Allen. Next defensive possession, he successfully defended Gibson's driving layup attempt. On the next one, he rebounded E'Twaun Moore's jumper. On the next one, he picked off a steal.

When the period ended, the Pacers' four-point lead had been restored to nine, and Hill had earned the right to start the final quarter. He added two more rebounds and two more assists, one of them a heady kick-out to Rodney Stuckey for a 3-pointer that provided a 10-point lead with 10 minutes left. He stayed in the game until 3:35 remained, by which time the Pacers had secured the victory with a 15-point lead.

Hill's opportunity was brought about by the lower back pain that caused Jordan Hill to be scratched from the game during pre-game warmups. Vogel planned to go with him for just a few minutes, to buy some rest for other frontline players.

"Gibson is a guy who can move his feet well and he's a tough guy to exploit in a spread offense," Vogel said. "He can win the matchup against a small four. We needed some minutes there, and Ian and Lavoy looked a little gassed. We told Solo before the game to stay ready.

"He played terrific. He didn't just fill in for a few minutes, he played great defense, rebounded well against a great big and made some really solid offensive plays. His run was a big part of us closing out the game."

For Hill, it was just reward for maintaining a positive attitude despite falling out of the regular game rotation after leading the Pacers in minutes played last season. He didn't consider the sudden opportunity a difficult challenge, because he didn't look to score – and didn't, taking just one shot, an open 3-pointer.

"If you're coming in and thinking of getting 20 (it's hard)," he said. "If you think of doing everything else, that's the easier task. Coming in getting rebounds, trying to get deflections, talking on the floor, hustling, that's all stuff you can do as soon as you step on the floor.

"You've just got to stay positive. This is a business. Nothing's owed to nobody in this league. You have franchise guys who dictate how things go, but everybody else just falls in order. I have no right to be mad about my situation."

Mahinmi helped protect the Pacers' lead in the fourth quarter at the foul line, something nobody would have predicted given his ineptitude in the previous games. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg called for a Hack-a-Ian strategy with his team trailing by 14 points with less than five minutes left, and it looked as though Mahinmi was going to oblige – and be pulled from the game. He missed his first two attempts off the back of the rim with 4:49 left. Vogel had Allen at the scorer's table ready to report in, but Mahinmi was fouled again at 4:20 – and hit them both. That was enough to convince Vogel to pull Allen back to the bench and let Mahinmi stay in the game.

Mahinmi went on to hit seven of his final eight attempts. He gave credit to Ellis for some timely advice as he stepped to the line after his first two misses.

"Just breathe and follow through," Ellis recalled.

"That's all we talk about in practice. He hits them in practice like that and it paid off in the game."

He does, indeed. Not just when he has the luxury of putting up 10 in a row after practice when there's no pressure, but in scrimmages, too.

"We call fouls when Ian's going to the basket when he doesn't get fouled, just so he has to shoot game free throws," Vogel said. "And he makes them. So there's a confidence there he's going to stabilize and start knocking these things down, and tonight was a big step in that direction."

Vogel interrupted Mahinmi's conversation with reporters at his locker to tell him just that.

"I told you it was going to stabilize, and tonight it stabilized," Vogel said, shaking Mahinmi's hand.

Mahinmi said he doesn't mind being fouled by teams in desperate need of getting the ball back late in the game. If nothing else the free throw attempts are extra practice.

"It's good, because to be honest with you, the more I shoot the better I feel. Sometimes it's tough and I shoot one free throw and I miss it and it's 'aaahhh,'" he said, slapping his hand for emphasis. "Then I put pressure on myself. The more I'm at the line and the better I feel and get in my rhythm, it's actually a good thing."

Now the question becomes, has Mahinmi cleared a hurdle? Slayed a monster? He hit 77 percent of 82 attempts for Dallas in the 2010-11 season, but declined from there. He hit just 30 percent of his attempts last season and was at 21 percent before Friday.

"I'm going to keep building on it," he said. "It's a long season and hopefully I can get it higher."


Have a question for Mark? Want it to be on Pacers.com? Email him at askmontieth@gmail.com and you could be featured in his next mailbag.

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Indiana Pacers. All opinions expressed by Mark Montieth are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Indiana Pacers, their partners, or sponsors.

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