With the fifth different starting line-up of the season, the Indiana Pacers finished the regular season Wednesday night falling to the visiting Chicago Bulls 87-92 in front of a sellout crowd (18,165) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers struggled to keep pace with the Bulls hot shooting in the first half. Chicago stretched the lead to 15 from 21 of 42 shooting (50%) to the Pacers 15 of 41 (36.6%).
The second half saw fewer minutes for the Pacers starting five and the Bulls shooting cooled long enough for Indiana to cut the lead to seven late in the fourth quarter.
The loss brought the regular season record to 42-24 while the Bulls improved to 49-16 entering the playoffs.
BY THE NUMBERS
Bulls Guard Kyle Korver came off the bench to lead the team with 20 on 8 of 16 shooting and Starting Forward Carlos Boozer contributed 16 before sitting entire fourth quarter.
Pacers Guard Lance Stephenson led the Pacers in scoring in his first start of the season with 22 points on 10 of 15 from the field.
"I thought we competed at a very high level in a great atmosphere, quite frankly, tonight. The fans were great tonight. Our starters got a lot of good reps and good minutes. I thought that we sharpened up for the playoffs and so did our bench. We also got to get a good look at Lance Stephenson with Danny Grainger and (Leandro) Barbosa out. He got the opportunity to start and really had a heck of a basketball game." – Coach Frank Vogel
"We want to continue to build habits. We know that Chicago is one of the best defensive teams out there and we knew it was going to be hard to score against them. We’ve got to be prepared to go out and compete against a very talented basketball team. We’ve got to do whatever we’ve got to do as far as preparation to make sure that game one, we’re as ready as we possibly can be.” – David West
"We wanted to continue to play together and do things to continue to build habits for the playoffs. I think the guys did great today. The biggest thing is that no one is injured. We’re injury free after this game today. Right now I’m focused on the Indiana Pacers, Orlando Magic match-up. I’m going to go into that game and let God walk me through. This is what you play the season for, the playoffs. Now it’s win or go home. This is what you put all your marbles in the middle for. I’m happy that we’re going in as a three-seed and playing well, so we’ll see what it holds for us." – George Hill
"To watch Lance (Stephenson) play with that confidence tonight, it was fun." –Paul George
STAT OF THE GAME
The Chicago bulls were 10 of 10 shooting from the freethrow line while the Pacers were 11 of 16. The Bulls also dominated second chance points with 13 points from put backs to the Pacer’s 6.
Forward, David West’s 13 points and five rebounds kept the Pacers in the game bringing them back within seven points in the third before sitting out the fourth quarter.
Pacers guard Lance Stephenson had a solid outing for his first start of the season. Stephenson finished the game with 22 points in 34 minutes.
Pacers Guard Leandro Barbosa did not play due to a sprained left ankle.
Having secured the three-seed and home-court advantage, the Indiana Pacers begin the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs facing either the Orlando Magic or the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, beginning this weekend.