INDIANAPOLIS – When these teams meet later in the season, the look and feel could be much different.
It might not have to do with consequence of the game, but it could. Both teams meet in March (3rd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the 23rd in Chicago) and are in the running for one of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference.
But things are much different for the Bulls when Derrick Rose is there just as it is with the Pacers when Danny Granger is in the lineup. Neither were on the floor when the teams made up their postponed game from December 26th Monday night, as replacements continued to fill in till their return from knee injuries.
There is a chance that both Granger and Rose will return for the two more match-ups between Chicago and Indiana and make a major impact. For the time being, that honor belonged to Paul George, George Hill and David West.
Indiana’s “Big Three” combined to score 72 points to help the Pacers to a 111-101 win over the Bulls at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, helping the team collect their 14th consecutive win at home. It ties the biggest home winning streak in ten seasons, equaling the one put together by Indiana during the 2002-2003 campaign. It’s still short of the franchise record of 25, which was set in the 1999-2000 season.
“You have to be able and willing to take care of your home court,” said West of the success at home. “We’ve been able to do that throughout the year. Obviously were not happy with how we’ve played on the road but we’re going to take advantage of these games that we have here at home.”
West really took that to heart against Chicago, who played without center Joakim Noah, who missed the previous two games with a right foot injury. West was 11-for-18 from the floor and also grabbed nine rebounds as the Pacers took the lead for good in the middle of the second quarter.
Adding to his effort was recent All-Star selection George whose double-double (21 Points, 11 Rebounds) included a seven-point run in the final 3:27 of the game that finally helped to put the Bulls away after they cut a double-digit lead down to four. George’s 6-of-14 from the field added to a solid 52.7 percent shooting from the field which was actually in the mid-60s before a small shooting slump early in the fourth quarter dropped the percentage and helped Chicago make it a game.
“Guys aren’t looking to create for themselves, they’re looking to create for one another,” said George. “That’s really been key for our field goal percentage going up because we have been shooting a lot of wide open shots.”
Hill had plenty of those in a his 22-point night which helped the Pacers move into third place in the Eastern Conference standings. The ability to get the ball around to a number of players, according to the guard, is the reason the Pacers have been able to find success after some early struggles.
“I think we’re starting to learn to trust each other, make the extra passes and things like that,” said Hill. “When you do that and commit to the other person and you make the right pass and the right play, normally you get great results.”
Fourteen of them at home, to be precise.