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Scenes from the United Center

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Yours Truly attended the Pacers-Bulls game last night. Here are some collected observations.

PG was great, but not quite enough against the Bulls on Monday night
PG was great, but not quite enough against the Bulls on Monday night
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

As you may have heard, the Indiana Pacers dropped last night's tilt against their Central Division rival Chicago Bulls. Playing without their starting point guard, George Hill, as well as 6th man Rodney Stuckey and third big man, Myles Turner, the 'Cers faced an uphill climb. Here are some non-chronological observations from a biased observer:

  • Getting to and then into the United Center blows. I live and work in Chicago, and even though I was within 0.5 miles of the arena at 6:45 (7:00 PM tip), I missed the entirety of the Bulls going ahead 15-2, and we made it to our seats by the time the score was a more manageable 15-5. Advantage Bankers Life Fieldhouse (and by extension, Indiana). Shouts to T&K for the tickets though!
  • As noted by Zach Lowe, the Bulls logo is both iconic, and dope. Although I'm not sure he used those words. Also, Benny the Bull is simply delightful. At one break in the action, he tied a balloon to the back of a court security guard, and then patiently waited for *minutes* until the poor soul realized what was happening. Great dedication to a bit. Benny also nailed a one-handed backwards half court shot (although it did take him like, 7 attempts, so poor efficiency, Benny). In-Arena experience advantage, Chicago Bulls.
  • Derrick Rose is better than I thought. He was springy and unpredictable, and generally a positive creative force for Chicago. Unfortunately, he suffered a sprained ankle towards the end of last night's game.
  • The Bulls have waves of good-to-great players to send at teams. It seemed like every time Chicago subbed in someone new there was no discernible drop in their level of play. (NOTE: the following does not apply to Kirk Hinrich, who, at age 34, is trash).
  • Jimmy Butler and Paul George were the two best players on the court last night, and seem to have a healthy respect for one another. This round went to Butler, who sealed the game by blocking PG13. Butler is a quiet assassin in general, but he did throw down a monster alley-oop on a beautiful Pau Gasol feed.
  • Sleeved jerseys are stupid. I'm with LeBron James on this one.
  • Joe Young is little. Unsurprisingly, the diminutive rookie struggled throughout most of the game, but Indiana needed every contribution it could get from its tattered bench, and he did come up with some big points down the stretch.
  • I do not enjoy watching Jordan Hill play basketball. I probably would not enjoy watching him play any other sport, either. Get well soon, Myles!
  • I was surprised Chase Budinger didn't get more burn in the second half, however, he was the only of the Pacers starters who ended with a negative +/-.
  • Monta Ellis and C.J. Miles both came up huge. Monta was the victim of a few, shall we say, questionable calls, and rather than scream at the officials, he simply jogged the length of the court and back and pressed on. He made a huge bucket in crunch time, and CJ back ironed a 3 that would've put the Pacers up by two with about a minute remaining. CJ was 5-8 from downtown on the night, and was instrumental in bringing the Pacers back from their deficit.
  • When Ian Mahinmi missed both free throws with 1:07 remaining, the entire crowd was rewarded with free chicken sandwiches from Chick-fil-A. Needless to say, after he missed the first and the promotion was illustrated on the video boards, the crowd reached a fever pitch. Their intensity was rewarded when Ian clanked the second. In solidarity with Ian, I refused to turn in my game ticket for chicken.
CLOSING THOUGHT

Barring any major injuries, the Pacers are going to be a playoff team. In fact, I'm going on record and saying 4 out of 5 Central Teams make the playoffs in the East this year. Hopefully these two teams meet again in the playoffs, and the United Center gives me a press pass to each game.