What was a fast no-D game in the first half ended with Bulls dominance on both ends in the second for a 110-89 demolition of the Pacers at the UC.
The Pacers (17-27) came into the United Center for another beatdown on Saturday and they got it. The final score of 110-89 was a deficit built largely in the Bulls (33-14) 33-17 fourth quarter, but there was never any question who was winning that game.
Derrick Rose played 34:36 with his ulcers and largely more efficient than Friday against a defense that gave him all the space in the world. When they double-teamed, they were completely inept at recovering to the men left wide open one or two passes away.
Carlos Boozer made scoring look easy, Luol Deng pushed the issue down Indy's throats, and Kyle Korver shot the lights out -- all scoring over 15 points.
The Bulls beat Indy on the glass, shot well while shutting Indy down, forced just enough turnovers, and showed some vertical flair for a fun game.
- Besides early threes, Indy had no way to score. They shot an abysmal 40.5% (33-for-81) from the floor -- 33.3% on threes (8-for-24) -- and an anemic 62.5% (15-for-24) from the charity stripe.
- The Bulls out-rebounded Indy 46-39 and dominated second chances with 11 offensive rebounds. They didn't reset the defense well on a consistent basis, but the Pacers were lazy. They shot too much to keep themselves in the game before shooting themselves out of it.
- Boozer was that easy button. He finished with his 18th double-double of the season with a game-high 24 points on 11-for-21 shooting and 10 rebounds in a little over 32 minutes. His defense was kinda' bad, but the people he was defending were a whole lotta' worse. Either way, you don't seeing Josh Mc-FKN-Roberts droppin' 20 on 8-for-12 shooting in 27 minutes.
- Rose battled and managed to make the Pacers look silly, despite not being able to finish very well. He finished with 20 on 8-for-17 shooting, but couldn't attack the basket well in his malnourished fatigue, so he only got to the FT line to shoot 3-for-3. He anchored a great inside-out game, baiting double teams, and finished with seven assists and only two turnovers.
- Deng's stroke was off, but Indy couldn't stop him from attacking. He finished with 19 points on 6-for-13 shooting and 6-for-8 at the FT line, despite only hitting 1-of-5 threes. He played over 40 minutes because Taj Gibson left the game with a minor ankle sprain in the fourth and grabbed eight rebounds. He even dribbled behind his back and took defenders off the dribble with crossovers. You won't see that often, let's just say.
- Korver shot Indy out of the gym. His 16 points came on hitting only 1-of-3 threes, but 6-for-11 from the field. When he can create his own shot like Saturday, he really is unstoppable. Of course, if he's creating so much, the opposing defense is borderline effortless.
- Ronnie Brewer was a sloppy 2-for-9, but his eight points included the bunch of sickness below. And what better than Stacey King on the call, breakin' out the "postah macheeeeen!"
- Kurt Thomas was messy. He went 4-for-4 because the Indy D never recovered when they over-committed on the double team. His eight points and seven rebounds were eclipsed by some sleepy D in just under 29 minutes.
- Taj's X-rays were negative. It's a mild ankle sprain. He should be expected to be listed as day-to-day. He landed on Brewer's foot in a routine play. it looked a lot worse that it worse, all reports have confirmed. After the game Tom Thibodeau said Taj could've returned if needed.
At 33-14, the Bulls sit alone in the #2 spot ahead of the Heat (32-14) in the conference. Technically, it's a half-game, but the Bulls hold the tiebreaker being 1-0 in head-to-head, so their a de facto full game in front.
The Bulls are now 11-0 against the awful Central Division and 13 games in front of the Bucks (19-26) and 14.5 in front of Indiana. With 37 games remaining, capping the Bucks potential at 41-41 is pretty generous. The Bulls have just tightening their grip on the inevitable decisive division win.
Saturday marked the Bulls' 12th win in 16 games in January and 24th in 30 games since starting 9-8. They're now 23-4 at home and holding an overall five-game winning streak.
Next, the Bulls go to L.A. to face the Clippers (18-28), who are on an eight-game winning streak at home and 13-7 since enter the UC in December 5-21 and exiting with a win. The Staples Center Red Team has the young phenom in Blake Griffin continuing to dominate every paint he enters, but without Eric Gordon, there's no excuse for a game too close.
Stats via NBA.com.