Well, the Bulls are ready for the regular season.
The Indiana Pacers on the other hand, still have some work to do. That much was obvious after Chicago jumped on the Pacers in the first quarter, withstood a couple of runs and then ran away for a 93-85 win to wrap up the preseason schedule for both teams.
Derrick Rose had the Bulls on point when he was on the floor running the show, easily including the newly acquired Rip Hamilton into the mix which makes for a frightening proposition if you pause to consider how well they'll play together by the end of the season. Rose simply could've named the score since the Pacers had no answer.
The Pacers didn't play well enough to beat a lot of NBA teams but the Bulls defense deserves a lot of credit for forcing the blue and gold into far too many jumpers early. One thing the Pacers don't do well is forced jumpers. After the first quarter played mainly by starters, the Pacers had shot just 5 of 21 (23.8%) from the floor.
Tyler Hansbrough made sure the Pacers maintained their level of effort and helped spark a second quarter comeback as Frank Vogel added him in with the Goon Squad players off the bench. Hansbrough finished with 24 points and 13 rebounds and once again was the best player on the floor for the Pacers for much of the night.
More thoughts on the rest of the crew after the jump.
- David West played and actually found a nice little rhythm at one point, showing what he can bring the Pacers on the floor. West played 15 minutes and added 8 points and 4 rebounds showing the savvy he relies on around the rim to hit the offensive glass and clear room for his shot against bigger players. Just oozed the veteran pro the Pacers so desperately need. The highlight hoop had to come when he popped out to the right side after picking for Darren Collison and then knocked down the 18 footer after DC found him.
- Hansbrough is going to be hard to keep off the floor, but having him come off the bench still seems like a no-brainer since that second unit needs his production. Hansbrough and West played for a stretch at the same time and were quite effective. Depending on the matchup that may be the best front court option in many situations.
- The West-Hansbrough tandem looked so good partly because Roy Hibbert looked so ordinary. Hibby struggled to get anything going offensively and failed to make up for it in other areas. It was the type of game we've seen often in the past that can't be a regular season staple or the Pacers will struggle more than they should. Roy, along with the rest of the team, will enjoy playing a team besides the Bulls going forward.
- Danny Granger also cruised through the final tune-up. Even though he wasn't real impressive, it is hard to critique much since he didn't play much in the second half. Granger knocked down a pair of threes in the first half and was also beat back on defense a couple of times, allowing easy Bulls buckets, as well.
- Paul George was up and down but at least while he was on the court he was in the mix. George had to chase Rip Hamilton around quite a bit, but did flash some solid D with a pair of nice steals. George finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds but also had four turnovers. It was nice to see him knife through the lane and finish at the rim with a layup, but ball handling and taking the ball into the lane to create his own shot is still a work in progress. George's game is still growing so at some point he may have to scrap some of the elements he worked hard on this summer and focus on playing defense, hitting the glass and taking the shots he gets in the offense. Creating his own shot off the dribble just isn't ready for prime time yet.
- Darren Collison and George Hill played together and also separately handled the point guard duties in the second half. Both really struggled with their shot, coming up short on most of their misses. Camp legs may be kicking in from going at each other so much.
- As for the playing rotation, Lance Stephenson joined the second unit in first half but not the second. Seems like Vogel may have tipped his hand on his preferred rotation after the break by keeping Stephenson on the bench. Ten players is a lot of players to consistently keep in the playing rotation. Stephenson would be the 10th player, depending on the matchup no doubt, which sounds about right so when Vogel trims it to nine, Lance will sit.
- So how will the playing rotations look? Starters: DC, Paul George, Granger, West, Hibbert Bench: Hansbrough, George Hill, Foster, Dahntay and Stephenson
- Odd man out appears to be A.J. Price right now since Juice didn't play until garbage time in either of the preseason games. Don't see him being released with his non-guaranteed contract since he provides a steady option behind the wild card that is Lance.
- Hansbrough delivered his normal assortment of head-shaking plays, driving Taj Gibson nuts several times during the game. The most hilarious play included a simple jump ball after Hansbrough tied up Gibson when he tried driving to the hoop. During the jump ball, neither player tipped it clean and so Hansbrough starts flailing at the tip, while Gibson is doing the same and trying to avoid Hansbrough. Eventually the refs gave the ball to the Pacers, ruling that Gibson tipped the ball three times. Hansbrough actually hit Gibson's head more times than the ball. It looked like he was trying to knock down a piñata.