The Pacers showed up ready to end their losing streak in Chicago on Friday night, outworking the Bulls most of the game to earn a 105-87 win at the UC.
The Pacers never trailed after jumping out to an early lead in the first quarter by attacking the Bulls at every chance while the home team started slow with a noticeable talent deficit.
Plus, the Pacers welcomed back Domas Sabonis who appeared a little out of sync on offense but remained a solid overall presence, not to mention helping balance out the playing rotation. The Pacers are simply a much better team with Sabonis in the mix.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Pacers, though as they hit a serious lull throughout the second quarter, giving up much of the double-digit lead they enjoyed in the first quarter. A late four-point burst by Victor Oladipo in the final minute to take a 45-35 lead to halftime.
Pacers shook off the clunky second quarter and came out smoking to begin the third quarter, at one point scoring 10 points in a two-minute stretch, eventually amassing a 23-point lead.
But as quick as they put up the points, the Pacers gave them up as the Bulls rallied with eight points in less than two minutes to force a time out while cutting the lead to 15 with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Pacers responded to the Bulls run and finished the third quarter with a 19-point lead while while resuming control of the game. The Pacers then pushed the lead to as much as 26 points in the fourth quarter allowing them to ease it on home and make sure the end of the bench saw some minutes to close out the win.
Victor Oladipo set the tone early and had strong overall effort finishing with a game-high 25 points with six assists and six rebounds. Speaking of finishing, after a steal in the third quarter, Oladipo finished the dunk on the other end with style.
Save this one for @VicOladipo's Slam Dunk Contest audition reel.— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) November 11, 2017
The @Pacers and #Bulls are playing on FSI and FSGO. pic.twitter.com/YlZy24wGtL
Bojan Bogdanovic was equally important to the Pacers on the offensive end, catching fire from behind the arc to finish with 22 points thanks in large part to making 6 of 9 from three land. A few of those threes in transition were simply a beautiful sight to behold.
Sabonis finished with 8 points and 9 rebounds but provided his stout physical presence in the pain which is a constant when he’s on the floor. Sabonis and Turner played two stints together in the second half. Turner struggled early but had a solid second half, finishing with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds but made just 2 of 9 three pointers. Bobby Portis was strong off the bench with 20 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls.
The Pacers won the fast-break points battle, 20-6 and finally had an advantage in points in the paint, 42-38.
The Pacers earned their third road win to move to 6-7 on the young season as they head back to Indy where they will host the Houston Rockets on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET.