Yikes, that wasn't much fun. The Indiana Pacers' perfect season came to an end tonight at the hand of the Chicago Bulls. Losing to the Bulls in Chicago isn't a surprise, but it's certainly a surprise the way they ended up losing this one; a lopsided blowout where the Pacers trailed by 33 points and were unable to ever get their offense or defense in sync as the Bulls simply shot their way to their fourth straight win, snapping Indiana's nine game winning streak cold in its tracks.
It was basically a perfect storm for the Bulls, who shot 55% through the third quarter, hitting a migraine worthy nine of their first 11 from three point range. The Pacers were taken out of the game early when they were jarred by the officiating, but they did little to counterbalance it, letting it bleed over into their defense, their energy, their shooting. So when the Bulls opened fire from just about every spot on the floor as a response, there was little hope for the Pacers to keep pace with Chicago.
The Pacers couldn't get above 32% shooting through three quarters, but were able to find some offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter, but their defense simply couldn't get on track to bring the game within 20. It was frustrating to see the defense continue to trade baskets despite finally seeing some signs of life from the offense, but it was simply Chicago's night and the Pacers had no shot when they couldn't even pull the game within 20 until the final minutes of the fourth.
Derrick Rose returned from a hamstring injury, and was a big catalyst shooting the ball, scoring 20 points, going unconscious hitting six of his first eight three point attempts. Luol Deng was the leader for Chicago offensively, however, shooting 8-14 for 23 points, but it was his defense on Paul George that really helped things along. George was a woeful 3-14 wrapping up with a season low 12 points.
Roy Hibbert did have a fairly solid game with a 14 & 10 double double, while also totaling another three blocks on the night. David West had 13, but needed 16 shots to get there and George Hill struggled his way to 11. Lance Stephenson had another bad game as well. He shot poorly as did everyone, but it was his play on defense that was especially disappointing.
The bench was nonexistent as well despite a couple of guys coming on late. Chris Copeland got extended minutes and made the most of it offensively, scoring 13 with three three pointers, but defensively, the Bulls were constant in going to Taj Gibson, to get the points right back. Orlando Johnson also played well down the stretch, attacking the basket for his 11 points.
The Pacers are still in great control of their early season run sitting at 9-1 as frustrating as this one was. But the Bulls were the better team tonight just as Indiana was the better team at home. Indiana has a long time to let this one stew, and will tip off Wednesday night against the New York Knicks.