USA TODAY Sports
Frank Vogel's 100th career win put the Pacers in charge of the Central Division lead.
The Indiana Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls for the third time this season to win the season series and lock up the tie breaker against their division rival. The win pushed the Pacers lead in the Central to four games, but with that tie breaker tucked away, make that five games.
The NBA is a bottom line business, so the Pacers left the Fieldhouse late Sunday night with their goal for the night complete, even if it didn't go completely as planned. Despite leading for the bulk of the 48 minutes, the Bulls found a way to stay in touch with the Pacers throughout the game. This feat impressed the ESPN crew broadcasting the game so much it was hard to tell if the Pacers ever had the lead.
I have to admit it was an impressive performance from the Bulls, with Jimmy Butler, Nazr Mohammed and Marquis Teague all coming up big off the bench and forcing the Pacers to dig in and hold on for the win. Joakim Noah was his normal pesky self as well, although the super-human descriptions of Noah's play may have fit better with his previous two games. The Bulls were eight points worse with Noah on the floor last night, if you're into that type of thing.
But that's fine. The Bulls should enjoy all of the praise heaped on them for their spunky effort. This isn't the kind of game the Pacers will log in the time capsule, anyway. They will log the W, though which will look just like all of the other W's at the end of the season.
After destroying the Knicks a couple of weeks ago, the Pacers enjoyed a lot of national attention for their status in the East and potential ceiling being far higher than most thought. Now with the Heat rolling and a couple of clunkers by the Pacers, and Danny Granger's knee issues, I'm sensing a media backlash leading up to the matchup in Miami on Sunday.
Fortunately, all of that talk won't erase any wins. Now the Pacers have to take advantage of a couple of off days to tighten things up for their next game against Boston on Wednesday.
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