The Indiana Pacers were benefited by big time offense in their division win over the Chicago Bulls, moving them to 29-19 and back on top of the division, also winning their 14th straight game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers offense was in sync early and often, reaching 60 points in the first half on 67% shooting. While things got a little hectic late with shots and turnovers, the Pacers maintained their lead thanks to some late game heroics from Paul George.
There was a lot of good to take from tonight's win, some minor concerns, but mostly good things. The offense has quietly come to life in the team's last five games, reaching 98 or better in all five, and shooting above 50% in three of them, no small task for a team that has been a mess shooting the ball all season. Unfortunately, the defense hasn't been as stout in some of those efforts, tonight included.
Marco Belinelli was a big thorn in Indiana's side in the second half, shaking loose Lance Stephenson on just about every possession as part of his 24 points on just 13 attempts. Stephenson made up for some of that on the other end, making big plays as part of his 15 point night, but Belinelli still had his way on the offensive end all night, to add into some stretches of success for the Bulls in the paint without Joakim Noah to make plays for them.
But while there were difficult stretches defensively, there was some sharp defensive efforts, Luol Deng had success early in the game inside, but would be taken out of it offensively, shooting just 4-18 for 13 points. On the other end, Paul George would finish with 21 points and 11 rebounds, hitting a pair of big shots down the stretch when the Pacers were making bad passes, missing just about everything, and finding themselves out of sync. Turnovers were an issue for the Pacers early, but they cleaned them up until the end portions of the game when guys made a number of poor passing decisions.
David West was the backbone of the team's success again tonight, scoring a game high 29 on 11-18 shooting, ending with nine boards for his night. West played at a high level with George Hill, who's 22 on 7-10 shooting gave the Pacers three 20 point scorers. Off the bench, Tyler Hansbrough led the way with eight in the first half, frustrating the Bulls, but the bench as a whole was mostly ineffective, scoring just 18 points.
The win was Indiana's third straight overall, a positive home response to their three game losing streak out West, jumping the Pacers to third place in the East, 3 games behind New York for second. Also noteworthy, the Pacers win snapped a 41-game winning streak for Chicago in which they scored over 100 points, a record that tied them for the most all time.
Indiana will play the second game of their back-to-back-to-back tomorrow night against the Atlanta Hawks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The team's struggles against the Hawks will be a big part of tomorrow night's story line, the Pacers trying to get to 30 wins while keeping their home win streak alive.