Being without Victor Oladipo against a red-hot Chicago Bulls team went about as expected for the Indiana Pacers, who found themselves losing their third straight game. The Pacers found themselves in trouble halfway through the first quarter as the Bulls ran off an 11-2 run to go up by nine.
By the end of the first, the Pacer found themselves down 10, having allowed 37 points and being on the wrong side of five threes in the quarter. The Pacers struggled to play within 10 the rest of the night, because any runs they were able to make were responded to by the the three point shooting of Chicago.
The Bulls finished the night with 18 threes to just seven for the Pacers. Nikola Mirotic hit eight as part of his 28, paired masterfully with the play of Lauri Markkanen, posting a career high of 32 points. Chicago was concise and on-point with their offense, shooting 50.6% and pushing 31 assists on the night.
The Pacers got a big showing themselves from Darren Collison, leading the Pacers with 30 points on 12-16 shooting. Collison was big all night in the mid-range game, and extended out to three point range well, shooting 4-5 from deep, which yes, makes the rest of the team a woeful 3-17 tonight.
Lance Stephenson hit another pair, but was overall erratic in his play. He finished with 18 points and nine rebounds, but needed 19 shots to get there, heaving up some questionable looks to go with a pair of turnovers. Indiana actually played very clean with just 10 on the night, but despite an advantage in turnovers, they could never capitalize on that, outscoring Chicago 15-13 in points off turnovers.
Domantas Sabonis came on late to lead the bench effort with 14, joining Stephenson with nine boards and leading the Pacers in blocked shots with three. Overall the bench effort was fine outside of their inability to limit Mirotic. Cory Joseph scored 10 and Joe Young had a season high seven, looking very good with his shot on 3-6 shooting.
In the starting lineup, the Pacers got little contribution from Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner. The two combined for 18 points on 6-20 shooting, including 0-7 from three point range. Turner had his hands full early and often against Robin Lopez, but did score seven in the fourth. That was hamstrung by 3-6 free throw shooting in the quarter and only three rebounds (two offensive, however, the second coming in the third as part of a 9-0 run).
That the Pacers miss Oladipo when he’s out games is an understatement. Not only does it take Stephenson away from a second unit he’s more fit to be in, but the lack of reliability really takes shape when he’s out. The Pacers needed guys to step up and Collison came ready to play, but it was a tough go for anyone else to really follow his lead despite the 18 from Stephenson.
Oladipo’s return isn’t expected to be Sunday when the Pacers wrap up the 2017 portion of the schedule against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Indiana capitalized early in the year on the Wolves being without Jimmy Butler and they’ll be looking to do the same if Indiana is shorthanded.