The Indiana Pacers finished the fourth quarter with a flourish as they erased a 13-point deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls 108-101. The win was the fourth straight for the Pacers as they kept pace with the Atlanta Hawks, remaining two games out of the final playoff spot in the East.
Man, if the Pacers could've finished games earlier in the year they way they have this past week, they'd be locked into the playoffs right now. Oh, well, no turning the clock back now. The recent surge of effort and execution has been fun to watch.
The Pacers survived a suspect defensive night that saw the Bulls shoot in excess of 50% most of the night. Only down the stretch did the Bulls begin clanking like crazy.
The finish will stick out in this one, though. As he did against Charlotte, Shawne Williams sparked the Pacers down the stretch and everyone followed his lead to make the plays necessary to close out the Bulls.
After a Pacer time out with 4:39 left in the game and the Bulls up 95-90, Shawne Williams drew foul and made both free throws. A couple of empty possessions later, Travis Diener is fouled and hits his free throws to bring the Pacers within one, 95-94. After another stop, Shawne was isolated on the left side with Larry Hughes. He gathered his game and made a quick move before knocking down a cold-blooded step back jumper. Just like that, Pacers are up, 96-95.
After a Bulls timeout, they come up empty again. This time, Shawne is on the right side and feelin' it. He drills another contested shot, this time from 3-land, and the outburst from Shawne has lit a fire for the rest of the team.
Mike Dunleavy takes the next possession and scores on a nice drive to the hoop. Danny Granger takes his turn after Dun, and hits a nice turnaround shot in the paint on the following possession. Meanwhile, the Bulls are clanking shots at the other end which helped the Pacers build a 103-97 lead.
From there, the Pacers made 5 of 6 free throws to put the game away. Over the final 4:39, the Pacers made 9 of 10 free throws and seized the game like they wanted it more.
One more thing, Troy Murphy continued his incredible play of late. Scratch that, he's been playing this well for at least two months. Tonight Murph pitched in a season high 24 points, including 5 3-balls, and 8 rebounds. Travis Diener also provided some great point guard play in the fourth quarter. He had a nagging back problem, but played through it and set the pace for the Pacers comeback.
The Pacers will get to see just how well they're playing when the New Orleans Hornets visit the Fieldhouse on Tuesday. But tonight, enjoy the W!