The Pacers started their three-games-in-three-nights stretch with a solid 111-101 win over the Chicago Bulls today, pulling the two teams into a tie for the Central Division lead with identical 29-19 records but with the Pacers holding a 2-0 head-to-head edge for the season.
For a while, it looked like the Pacers were going to run away with it after going up 14 early in the fourth and that perhaps Frank Vogel could rest his starters knowing that they had two more games in the next two nights. But to the Bulls' credit, even without Joakim Noah, they were able to fight back and closed within 4 with a 1.5 minutes to go -- until Paul George hit a dagger three-pointer off a screen, and the Pacers were able to hold on by going a perfect 10-10 from the free throw line the rest of the way.
David West continued his beastly ways with 29 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists on 11-18 shooting, and Paul George was again stellar with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. George Hill didn't even miss a shot until the fourth quarter and finished with 22 points and 6 assists on 7-10 shooting.
Lance Stephenson had a good game offensively (15 points, 5 assists) but was absolutely burned on the defensive end by the crafty Marco Belinelli, who led the Bulls with 24 points in as many minutes and was damn near unstoppable at times.
One would think Roy Hibbert would have a big game with Noah out, but no, the big fella continued to struggle with an abysmal 6 points and 9 rebounds on 3-11 shooting. Even when he receives the ball or grabs the offensive rebound right under the ring it's nowhere near a certainty that he can finish. It's that bad.
The Pacers have now won three-straight after dropping the last three games of their West coast road trip. Tomorrow night they play the Hawks, a team they have lost to twice already this season on the road. But this time it's in Indiana, and it's time for revenge.