GAME RECAP: Pacers 105, Bulls 96

Bojan Bogdanovic finishes with 27 points and six boards as Indiana knocks off Chicago.

Postgame 190305

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GAME RECAP: Pacers 105, Bulls 96

Bojan Bogdanovic finishes with 27 points and six boards as Indiana knocks off Chicago.
Mar 5, 2019  |  00:00

Postgame: Pacers Locker Room - March 5, 2019

March 5, 2019 - Pacers players Darren Collison, Myles Turner, and Bojan Bogdanovic talk about the team's success against Chicago on Tuesday night and getting ready for a tough stretch.
Mar 5, 2019  |  01:46

Bojan Hits Late Corner Three

March 05, 2019: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 5, 2019  |  02:36

Tyreke Recovers & Finishes

March 05, 2019 - Tyreke Evans recovers the ball after the defender tips the inbound attempt and takes it to the rim for the bucket.
Mar 5, 2019  |  00:47

Joseph Follows His Shot And Scores

March 05, 2019: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 5, 2019  |  01:56

DC Gets Space For The Jumper

March 05, 2019 - Darren Collison works around the perimeter until he finds space to knock down the jumper for two.
Mar 5, 2019  |  01:12

Bojan Punches It Off The Turnover

March 05, 2019: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 5, 2019  |  01:32

Turners Block Starts The Break

March 05, 2019 - Myles Turner rejects the layup attempt which leads to a fastbreak finish for Bojan Bogdanovic on the offensive end.
Mar 5, 2019  |  00:26

Pacers Score On Inbounds Play

March 05, 2019: Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers - Highlights
Mar 5, 2019  |  02:14

No Accident, Pacers Keep Grip on Third

by Mark Montieth
Pacers.com Writer
@MarkMontieth

Blocked shots are a good thing, in theory, but when they wind up as virtual assists for the other team they tend to lose their gleam. Myles Turner had seven of them in the Pacers' victory over Chicago on Tuesday, but four of them were immediately converted into layups for the Bulls.

They came during a bizarre 1 minute, 46-second stretch late in the second quarter, caused Turner great anguish on the court, and became the first topic of conversation in the Pacers' locker room at halftime. But it also reflected a primary reason the Pacers were able to hold off the Bulls and, in an indirect manner, one of the reasons they've held on to third place in the Eastern Conference.

"I have everybody else's back, somebody has to have my back," Turner said following the 105-96 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "But that's just one instance. I'm not knocking my teammates whatsoever. They've had my back all year. In that situation they have to be able to recover those balls. It's not something I'm concerned about. At the time it was frustrating."

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It also was absurd, to the point of being comical. Thad Young, for one, was able to laugh about it afterward, and Turner managed to force a smile. It went as follows:

3:32: Turner blocked Lauri Markkanen's layup, but Markkanen grabbed the loose ball and laid it in.

2:58: Turner blocked Zach LaVine's reverse layup, but Markkanen corralled it for a layup.

1:35: Turner blocked Kris Dunn's layup, only to have Dunn retrieve it for a layup.

1:12: Turner blocked another reverse layup by LaVine, but it wound up in the hands of Wayne Selden for another put-back.

Four blocks, eight easy points for the Bulls.

"We weren't finishing the play and helping him," coach Nate McMillan said.

The fact the sequence didn't incite an uprising, and actually seemed to serve as a motivation for regrouping, seemed relevant to the Pacers' ability to recover from last week's 1-3 record and from their one-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter on Tuesday. They didn't crack when the game grew difficult and teamwork was their glue.

Unlike recent games they started well, amassing a 16-point lead early in the second quarter. And unlike most of their recent games they finished well, limiting the Bulls to 21 fourth-quarter points on 7-of-22 shooting while hitting six of their final nine shots.

Say what you want about Chicago's measly 18-47 record, it's an improved team that had won five of its previous seven games, thanks largely to the acquisition of Otto Porter Jr. at the trade deadline. It wasn't a gimme victory for the Pacers, and required the sort of varied contributions that usually bring about their better performances.

Bojan Bogdanovic led the scoring with 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-5 3-pointers. He's scored at least 20 points in the past five games and 12 of the previous 18, and looking more and more confident in an offense that has relied more heavily on him than anyone since Victor Oladipo went down with a season-ending injury.

McMillan said recently that Bogdanovic is starting to look like the relaxed player who leads his Croatian national team in the summer. Bogdanovic says he doesn't disagree.

"I'm just trying to play loose," he said. "Even when Victor was here I'm trying to play like I do for my national team. The last couple of games, yeah, I'm feeling like that.

"You can play easily because you know the shots are going to come to you, that there are set plays they are going to call for you, so just relax and play your game."

Bogdanovic hit two of the game's biggest shots, a 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter that opened a four-point lead and another one with 1:33 left that pushed the Pacers' advantage to eight. He had plenty of help, though.

Bojan

Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images

Darren Collison hit 7-of-10 shots while scoring 22 points. He hit 3-of-5 3-pointers, including one with 4 ½ minutes left that followed Bogdanovic's first one of the period to give the Pacers a seven-point lead.

Thad Young scored just 11 points, but hit two crucial layups on spin moves out of postups, the second of which forced a Chicago timeout and sent fans to the exits with 68 seconds still to play.

Recounts of individual contributions should include those of Cory Joseph, who made one of the game's most important and impressive plays. The Pacers led by just four points early in the final period when he missed a jumper from the right wing. It seemed an easy rebound for either of the two Bulls standing underneath the basket, LaVine and Ryan Arcidiacono, but Joseph snuck underneath the rim to grab it from them and hit a reverse layup.

That gave the Pacers a six-point lead and inspired an incensed Bulls coach Jim Boylen to call timeout with 8:40 left.

Turner finished with 10 points, 11 rebounds and those seven blocks. He has yet to regain the offensive flow he had established for nearly three months leading to the All-Star break. Since then, he's hit just 15-of-44 shots in five games.

Those blocked shots matter, though, even the ones that are converted to layups. So do the misses he forced by contesting shots at the rim, not to mention the layup attempts he prevents from even taking place by his mere presence near the rim. His league-leading block average is up to 2.86, on pace to contend for the Pacers' franchise record.

The consistency of Turner's rim protection pried a confession out of Bogdanovic

"Sometimes we play soft defense on the perimeter because we know Myles is going to be there," he said, smiling.

Turner needs help defensively, as Tuesday's game dramatically reminded everyone. But even with their imperfections, even with their injuries, the Pacers find themselves hanging on to third place in the East. Their schedule turns angry now, with 10 of their next 11 games coming against teams with winning records, and eight of those 10 coming on the road. But for one night at least they could afford to block out the future and reflect on where they stand.

"We are not here by accident," Bogdanovic said. "We are playing great basketball. We are one of the best teams in the league defensively. That's why we're here at this point."


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.

Mark Montieth's book on the formation and groundbreaking seasons of the Pacers, "Reborn: The Pacers and the Return of Pro Basketball to Indianapolis," is available in bookstores throughout Indiana and on Amazon.com.

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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