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Bulls 102, Pacers 74: Indiana Mails in Preseason Finale

Instead of focusing on the fact the Bulls had this game won in the first quarter, and there was very little effort by the Pacers to change that, I think it might be better to reflect on the preseason as a whole. There’s no reason to process too much thought about Luol Deng scoring 29 points in 30 minutes, or the 7’ Omer Asik somehow getting seven offensive boards, or Derrick Rose looking like the best PG in the East.

Should we meditate on tonight’s effort, let it not be on the overly lax defensive effort by Indiana, the sickening free throw and rebounding disparity, and the poor ball handling and decision making. But, here’s a conundrum: if we look at the preseason as a whole and don’t look at tonight’s effort, are we looking at anything then?

The bad news is of course that the scoreboard was lopsided tonight. Could it actually be worse news that three of the four Pacers preseason losses have been decisive defeats? Even the wins have generally consisted of overly lax defensive efforts and poor ball handling and decision making. The team wrapped up shooting 40% from the floor, 34% from the three point arc, and committing 20 turnovers a game.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: we probably should hope the preseason doesn’t affect the regular season as much as they’re saying it does.

Of course, the effort has been there on most nights. They’ve played generally well at times and for the most part, it seems they’re heading in the right direction. But regardless of the effort, numbers that mirror last season as much as they do aren’t going to help improve the team all too much, I’m afraid. Alas, there’s plenty of time to look towards the season opener that looms on Wednesday, so to sum up tonight’s game: it’s a good thing no one will remember it!

After the jump, a closer look at the characters that put forth an overly lax defensive effort, created the sickening free throw and rebounding disparity, and showcased poor ball handling and decision making:

  • Darren Collison had the most respectable game of anyone tonight. He addressed a majority of his personal concerns in tonight’s game. Despite a large part team collapse, Collison shot efficiently, took smart shots, and avoided turnovers. He committed zero in 19 minutes of game action. He even held his own defensively, in comparison to the team in general. His 14 points should be sufficient most nights, though he attempted zero free throw attempts tonight.
  • Roy Hibbert appears to be a consistent double digit scorer. Despite struggling from the floor in recent games, he’s managed to remain an offensive centerpiece by both taking a lot of shots to make up for missing a lot of shots and also getting to the line effectively. This is not a concern of mine (him taking lots of shots), so long as he’s helping the effort by grabbing some of his misses. However, he struggled with only three rebounds on the night.
  • Paul George was good and bad tonight. Deng pretty much gave the rook 25 points, George gave himself 2-14 shooting, and committed six turnovers for the cause. But he remained active at times, sneaking in three steals, and being the team’s leading rebounder with 10. All in all, I think we have to really be happy with where we sit regarding George. He has some things to work through, but he averaged over five boards in his seven games. Great work!
  • Josh McRoberts is raising some concern for me. Another game he wasn’t terribly effective gives me a bad feeling heading into the season. He’s not making the same level of impact he did in early games. It will be interesting to see if he can bring back the intangibles he gave the starting unit or if teams are already adjusting to him. The team needs Josh to play well, but it could also be a learning curve for him to adjust to extended minutes.
  • Lance Stephenson got the start tonight, and didn’t make much of an impact. Born Ready had five points in 28 minutes, and a lot of nondescript play. Deep in the rotation he will go. Hopefully Born Ready can get ready, but it’s becoming increasingly clear he could be a real project player, not the quick impact steal everyone is expecting, especially if he continues to see time as the 2 guard like tonight, away from a ball handling position.
  • Brandon Rush had another productive game tonight, finishing with nine points on 3-6 shooting. We won’t see him for a while, but if he can push a positive effort from these last two games, he should have a spot in the rotation somewhere. If you care about +/- stats, Rush’s -4 was the team’s best for anyone with extended minutes.
  • A.J. Price and Tyler Hansbrough had nondescript nights as well. Price struggled from the floor, and struggled to jump start the second unit. Hansbrough crashed the boards as well as anyone on the team tonight, but not much else, even struggling from the line the two times he made the trip.

The regular season starts Wednesday. We’ll get to find out quickly just how much of the above carries over. There are suddenly a lot of questions about this team. With a quick test against San Antonio, we’ll quickly find out how this team can expect to stack up against quality opponents. Stay tuned.

The preseason is mercifully over, but the 82 game regular season is about to get underway. We’ve got a long ways to go, and a lot of growing to do. So again, don’t infer too much from tonight’s effort; it was an exhibition after all.