Not this time.
After Joakim Noah dunked a second-chance bucket with 3:16 left in the game, the Chicago Bulls had quickly cut the Indiana Pacers' seven-point lead to three with one of their patented 4-0 microbursts of offense that killed the Pacers in the playoffs last season.
As the Pacers' starters went to the bench for a timeout they had that familiar look about them. With the UC rockin', you could feel things slipping away. Paul George and Darren Collison tried to talk through some issues and Danny Granger shook his head in disgust and threw a towel down.
But one thing was different. Newcomer David West wasn't around for the frustrating collapses in the playoffs last season, and he had no intention of letting his team fall into the same trap. West could be seen on the bench clapping his hands, pumping everyone up.
"Come on, we're alright, we're alright," West said.
The Pacers would end up being more than alright, after struggling to get a field goal against the stingy Bulls for another two minutes after that timeout, the Pacers were still up two with the ball. West couldn't get his sweet-spot, 17-footer to go all night, so he took the ball strong in the lane to make a nice jump hook.
The Pacers went on to secure a 95-90 win over the Bulls, handing the Bulls their first home loss of the season, playing some magnificent defense down the stretch. Noah's dunk at 3:16 would be the last field goal the Bulls made in the game. Derrick Rose? He didn't score in the final 5:43 of the game, and when it was time for the Bulls' last chance, the Pacers forced the ball out of Rose's hands.
First, with the Pacers up two, Rose drew the attention of three Pacers on a drive with Roy Hibbert coming over to protect the rim and force the point guard to pass to Brian Scalabrine for a corner three which he bounced. After a mad scramble the eventually led to a Roy Hibbert dunk, Rose was ready to trigger the Bulls' next possession but after inbounding the ball, David West stepped out to double Rose and Noah kept the ball, trying to feed Carlos Boozer for a layup, but Danny Granger read it and snatched the ball to put away the W.
Outstanding bounce-back W to keep the Pacers undefeated after a loss. Plenty of observations after the jump.
- Considering this was a game between two of the top defenses in the NBA, the offenses fared quite well until things got down and dirty at winning time. At the half the Pacers were shooting an even 50% and the Bulls were shooting 51.2%. A 7-0 run to close the half put the Bulls up 10 points at the break and made it known they could do whatever they wanted to win the game.
- The Pacers quickly put that feeling to rest by starting the third quarter on an 11-3 run to tighten the game up. Then kept up the pressure for the rest of the game. The Bulls finished the game shooting shooting 21% (6 for 28) in the fourth quarter.
- The Pacers followed a familiar formula for winning with six different players scoring in double figures. Danny Granger made some big shots early and in the fourth quarter to keep things rolling for the Pacers. Granger finished with a team-high 22 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals, including the game sealing theft on the baseline. Granger did have 5 first half turnovers which was part of the sloppy second quarter breakdown. As a team, the Pacers had 11 turnovers in the first half but cut that down to two in the second half.
- Roy Hibbert had his jump hook going again and played some big minutes while still dealing with the broken nose obstructing his breathing. Hibbert finished with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks as he continues to assert himself in defending the tin.
- David West battled hard for this W. He didn't have his best game offensively, but not for a lack of effort. The shot wasn't falling, but he still outplayed his counterpart in Carlos Boozer by putting up 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. He even had a strong drive and dunk in the second half as the Pacers put themselves in control of the game.
- Coming off a frustrating game against Orlando, Darren Collison played much better scoring 11 points with 8 assists and 6 rebounds. He had the ball in his hands quite a bit with various pick n roll/pop decisions and ran things quite well. If not for West's case of the clanks from mid-range, he would've have a few more assists.
- Paul George had to play the role of utility man, chasing Rip Hamilton for much of the game until closing time when he switched over to Derrick Rose. George also had a few sweet offensive plays, including a between the legs dribble that freed him from a pair of defenders followed by PG seeming to float into the lane and then rise to throw down the two-handed jam. He makes it look too easy some times.
- Tyler Hansbrough had his best game in the past few. Still wasn't dialed in offensively, but did knock down a jumper and was much more assertive around the rim finishing with 10 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes of play.
- Derrick Rose had his spectacular moments, but was never able to get going down the stretch. Rose played 38 minutes in the game and finished with 24 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds, which are rather pedestrian numbers for the MVP guard.
- Ronnie Brewer was fabulous for the Bulls in the first half, filling in for Luol Deng better than Deng himself could. But like the Bulls, Brewer cooled off when it mattered. He scored 16 first half points but finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Pretty good guy to have coming off the bench in relief.
- The Pacers head to Boston where they will have a day off before playing the Celtics for the third time already this season. Beating a team three times in this short of a time period is not easy, but the Pacers don't seem to mind a challenge these days.