Monday, March 24, 2014

Pacers offense offensive in loss to Bulls

The visiting Pacers lost to the Chicago Bulls 89-77 Monday night. The Pacers are now 51-20 while the Bulls are 40-31.
Any one who follows either the Pacers or the Bulls knew this game had a chance to be an ugly one offensively. And for most of the first half it was much that way, with the Pacers leading 34-33 at the break. But the biggest disappointment in this one is that the Pacers allowed 31 points to the sometimes offensively challenged Bulls in the third quarter and 56 points in the second half. It's not an embarrassment to lose to the Bulls in Chicago, but you shouldn't allow a Bulls team that is without Derrick Rose to score 30 or more points in any quarter. It was frustrating to watch too as the Pacers flirted with getting with in a possession of taking the lead a couple of times, but could never get there.
The Big Play
This came midway through the third quarter. The Pacers, thanks to two straight Lance Stephenson three point plays, one traditional, one from behind the 3-point line, had just cut the Bulls lead to six points. Then Paul George came up with a steal and was on a breakaway. Expecting to him rise up and maybe even dunk the ball over Kirk Hinrich, George took a step and looked like he stepped in quicksand, allowing Hinrich to block the ball with two hands and the Bulls quickly got the lead back up to 10.
The Ups
George Hill was one of the few Pacers to
play well Monday night in Chicago.
1) George Hill has had his ups and downs this season, but he was solid in this one. Hill made what looked to be a big basket at the end of the half when the Pacers ran their three-man weave play in closing seconds. Hill, instead of handing off to Lance Stephenson as is the usual play, kept it and found himself wide open for a 3-pointer and hit it to end the half. Hill also did not have a turnover in this game. Hill finished with 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting.
2) The Pacers did hit 19 of 21 free throws for the game. So there's that.
The Downs
1) Yes, it's true the Bulls are one of the best defensive teams in the league and were sure to make some adjustments between Friday's game, a Pacers win, and Monday's game. But there were often times where the Pacers offense was very much out of sync in this one. The Pacers shot just 36 percent overall and an offense that was based on ball movement Friday night, had way too much one-on-one action in this one. The Pacers had 27 assists Friday and just 10 Monday. The Pacers have offensive problems and the Bulls exposed them to full measure in this one.
2) That Evan Turner choosing to go under the screen thing on defense, instead of in front of it, cost the Pacers again as the Bulls' Kirk Hinrich used the extra space to hit a 3-pointer. I tried to jump through the TV screen and tackle Turner,  (as I said I would do in my last post) but it didn't go well either.
Next Up
The Pacers play one of their biggest games of the regular season when they play host to the Miami Heat in a 8 p.m. game Wednesday against the defending champion Miami Heat. The Heat are just one game back of the Pacers for the lead in the Eastern Conference after defeating Portland Monday night. The teams split their two games earlier this season, with each winning at home. Both teams have struggled a bit as of late, with the Heat sometimes losing on the same night the Pacers do. The Heat have been led as expected by Lebron James at almost 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. They also have Dwyane Wade at 19 points per game, Chris Bosh at 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds, Ray Allen at 9.7 points and Mario Chalmers at 9.5 points. Indianapolis native center Greg Oden has returned to NBA action with the Heat this season, too. He averages three points and 2.3 rebounds, playing nine minutes a game.

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