The Indiana Pacers looked good at times, great on occasion and not so good the rest of the time in their preseason loss to Chicago. Surely nothing out of the ordinary for a preseason game, although both the Pacers and Bulls seemed to be going at it pretty hard considering the circumstances.
Derrick Rose was plenty dynamic enough in his initial return to the court after a year off to recover from knee surgery. If the Bulls can stay healthy, they will be a beast in the East, no doubt.
Speaking of the East, the Pacers didn't ponder the loss too long before they were off to Asia for their two games against the Houston Rockets. Within two hours of the game going final at BLF, the Pacers were boarding a 747 to begin the journey to Manila.
Here are a few more thoughts from the Fieldhouse, followed by the links:
- Danny Granger looked nowhere near ready to crack the starting lineup and not just because he struggle a bit with his shot. While 33 ran around fine and didn't look out of place, he was still a step slow on multiple occasions as he tried to find some rhythm while knocking off the rust. His man got by him on defense a few times and he was slow to react to loose balls or rebounds. As Frank Vogel mentioned, he still needs to work on his game timing and game conditioning. Now, as a bench option? Still plenty there to like. Moved well without the ball to get a layup late in the second quarter and is always a threat to knock down a corner three. Granger is still in recovery mode, so even considering a worst-case scenario, there is still lots to like about his return. So in the end, his 28 minutes of floor time alone was a huge highlight, making for a landmark night in Granger's recovery.
- Rookie Solomon Hill looked like he belonged on the court in his first NBA action. And that was before he jumped the passing lane to steal the ball and then finish past Derrick Rose at the other end for an easy two points. Hill's game just seems so, I don't know, comfortable, I guess. He exuded confidence and displayed some subtle moves that were smart. For instance, on a high-post entry pass to Luis Scola, Hill dropped a no-look bounce pass to his left while drawing his defenders attention to the right where he was looking. A simple pass made easy. Hey, after some of the awful post-entry passes we saw in the post-season last year, that little move caught my attention. Of course, he had his rookie moments, as well including a break away (nice steal, tho) that ended with a knee-buckle, no-dunk botched layup. He might hear about that a few times between Indy and Manila.
- Near the end of the first half, Derrick Rose charged in the lane hunting for his first dunk when Roy Hibbert stopped him mid-flight. Hibbert's arms were not straight up but this became Roy's signature defensive play last year which normally resulted in an offensive foul or no call. This time, Rose earned the call and a pair of free throws. Looks like Hibbert will have to be more deliberate with his arms remaining vertical along with his body. No doubt Thibs enjoyed the call since he started lobbying for it a couple of months ago.
- Pacers starters earned an early lead and then really got rolling in the third quarter, as Nathan mentioned. Of course, defense fueled it. After three first half fouls, Paul George was extremely engaged in guarding Luol Deng. That seemed to pick up his whole game as he scored ten points and made several plays at both ends during a 18-2 run that gave the Pacers a 60-50 with just under five minutes left in the quarter. PG would then leave the game before returning later and fouling out. If hunting for a positive from the game, this stretch of play in the third is what you are looking for.
- The Pacers were beat soundly in the hustle play category as the Bulls dominated the glass and points in the paint. The Pacers transition defense was rather soft, as well. Of course, Derrick Rose can do that to a D.
- Luis Scola and David West played a stint together late in the third quarter with Roy Hibbert on the bench. Also, Solomon Hill played minutes at shooting guard with Granger, West and Scola on the court. Chris Copeland was lost in the shuffle and only played about three minutes. Frank Vogel mentioned that he planned to get more minutes for Cope but the third quarter play by the starters changed his plan since he wanted them to play longer.
- One of the best sights of the night was George Hill getting up from sitting next to Nate McMillan during a break in the action only to have McMillan bring him back to resume their conversation. Hill's highlight of the night came when he maxed out his 6'9 wingspan to block a jumper by Kirk Hinrich before taking the ball the other way for a layup.