The Indiana Pacers were the victorious team Friday night when they achieved a win over division rival, the Chicago Bulls. Things were different on Monday night, though, as the Bulls grabbed an 89-77 win to prevent the Pacers from clinching the Central Division title at the United Center.
It took the Bulls a couple of possessions to get their offense going in the game, but that wasn’t the case for the Pacers. George Hill scored the first five points for Indiana. Paul George scored next to make it 7-0 in favor of Indiana, but Chicago quickly turned it around once Joakim Noah got his jumper to fall.
After Noah scored the first points for the Bulls, they quickly caught up. Jimmy Butler made a three, Kirk Hinrich hit a long, left-wing jumper, and suddenly, the Pacers were only ahead 9-7.
This prompted Indiana coach Frank Vogel to take a timeout, but it only prompted to allow the tides to turn more in Chicago’s favor; however, the Bulls weren’t able to stop the Pacers for long.
Indiana finished out the first quarter on an 8-2 run, giving them the 19-15 lead heading into the second quarter. The lead remained in its possession until Noah checked back in for Chicago at the 8:18 mark of the period.
The Bulls soon took the lead after Mike Dunleavy made a 22-foot jumper, and they maintained it for nearly the rest of the first half. The score remained close, so when Hill made a three right before the second quarter ended, the Pacers took the 34-33 lead.
Chicago opened the third quarter on a strong note, as it proceeded to go on a 10-3 run before Indiana was forced to call a timeout. The Bulls maintained their lead from there, but the Pacers were eventually able to string together a few shots to bring their deficit back to single digits.
Hinrich ended this momentum, though, as he stripped the ball from Paul George on a fast break. This steal then led to a tip dunk from Taj Gibson. The defensive stop from Hinrich also jump-started his offense, as he scored 13 points afterwards.
The Bulls were able to handle the workload on both ends of the court for the remainder of the game. Gibson scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to bring Chicago’s lead to 68-58. Even when Indiana found a way to cut the lead back to single digits, Chicago got the job done, and the lead would revert back to double digits.
Neither team was able to put up 20 points in the first or second quarter, but the Bulls really stepped it up in the second half. The Pacers did as well, but they only put up 21 and 22 points in the last two quarters. Chicago, on the other hand, really made a difference with their 31-point third quarter.
Gibson led the way for Chicago with a near double-double of 23 points, eight rebounds, one assist and one block. Hinrich followed with 18 points, two rebounds, three assists and one block. As usual, Noah put up a near triple-double of 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks.
The Bulls, now 40-31, will be back in action Friday night at the United Center to take on the Portland Trail Blazers at 7 p.m. central.
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