If you were looking for the Pacers (10-5) to make their statement, you certainly heard it loud and clear tonight. The Pacers defeated the Bulls (9-5) 104-92 to move into second place in the Eastern Conference standings.
In the first half, CJ Miles picked up right where he left off last game with a quick 16 points, leading all scorers in the first two frames. Paul George struggled to find his groove from three. The Pacers also kept Derrick Rose silent (1/8) from yhe floor. The Pacers entered the break with a 51-42 lead.
The second half started off a surge from Nikola Mirotic (25 points) and the Bulls, who pulled it within six points. Monta Ellis (14 points) took the charge and his aggressiveness was enough to hold off the push. If there's a will, there is a way as George was still able to eclipse the 20 point mark for the tenth straight game. Solomon Hill also saw some action with the absence of Jordan Hill and put in some meaningful minutes. S-Hill's defense shut down a red-hot Mirotic jumper.
And then there was Paul. On what many of us would consider an off night for him, Paul George (33 points, 24 in the second half) reminded us in the fourth quarter that this was his team. He led the offense back to a double digit lead after the Bulls cut it to seven midway through the last frame. Some clutch free throw shooting from Ian Mahinmi (yep, read it again if you must) and distribution from Stuckey and Co shut the door on a Chicago comeback.
From the stat line, the Pacers had arguably their best performance of the season at the line (22/29, 75 percent). They also dominated in transition with 21 fast break points versus five from the Bulls. Surprise of the night? Lavoy Allen scored 12 on 6/10 shooting as well as ten boards filling in for the injured Jordan Hill (lower back). Other statistic oddity? George Hill racked up ten rebounds as well.
The next time the Blue and Gold will play is Sunday at the Lakers. West Coast start-time so late for Indy: 9:30 pm ET.