Tag Archives: Indiana Pacers

Note-A-Bulls: Rondo benched but Bulls fail to climb out of early hole against Pacers

After two narrow wins preceded by three consecutive losses, the Bulls entered Friday afternoon at 16-16, a record that simply undermines the inconsistency and streakiness of this team so far. Facing the Pacers, a team they beat just four days ago, the Bulls once again showed some struggles from both the players and coach Fred Hoiberg.

While things would unfold unusually, the Bulls started off with their usual five (Rondo, Wade, Butler, Gibson, Lopez). In the 1st quarter, the Pacers came out prepared and jumped out to a 15-4 lead. The Pacers would extend that lead to 24-10 with less than 4 minutes remaining in the quarter. Despite their slow offensive start, the Bulls managed to respond with a 12-4 run to finish of the quarter down just 28-22.    

In the 2nd quarter, the Pacers continually fought off the Bulls to keep their lead near or at the double-digit marker. After pulling within four points of Indianapolis, the Bulls would eventually go back down by 12, and headed into the locker room losing 62-50. Call me a broken record but once again, the script seemed to flip at halftime, as the Bulls would no longer be outplayed by the Pacers coming out of the break.

As earlier mentioned, the starting lineup would not hold its form for the majority of the game. After an unproductive 1st half and early foul trouble, Michael-Carter Williams would get the call to run the offense for the 2nd half. Throughout the 3rd quarter, the Bulls managed to go shot for shot with the Pacers, outscoring them 23-22. While the lead was still a tough one to overcome with one quarter left, the Bulls did look much better defensively.   

Unfortunately, in the 4th quarter, the Bulls once again could only outscore the Pacers by a single point, however, the defense looked less impressive against a Pacers team that didn’t really need to thrive offensively. After being asked about his status as head coach of the Bulls before the game started, Hoiberg’s decision to sit Rondo in the 2nd half was one that will draw judgment, both good and bad, from Bulls supporters. Once again, shooting efficiency was an issue as the Bulls hovered around 40% from the field and just over 25% from 3-point range.

  • The good: Wade and Butler combined for 45 points, both shooting in the upper 40’s percentage-wise, from the field. McDermott and Felicio were both 4-5 from the field coming off the bench. Felicio continued being productive on the boards grabbing 12 rebounds (six being offensive) in just 22 minutes of action.
  • The bad: Gibson struggled from the field while Lopez only had two field goal attempts and Rondo had none. Mirotic also struggled mightily going 3-14 from the field, 11 of those attempts being 3 pointers.
  • With continued offensive struggles, something the Bulls hoped Hoiberg would excel at as an NBA coach, the Bulls need to quickly figure out how to get more efficient minutes out of both the starters and bench players. 
  • Up Next: the Bulls must quickly recover for a New Year’s Eve matchup against the .500 Milwaukee Bucks. The Bulls lost back to back games to Milwaukee earlier in the year, and look to get back to .500 at home.

Note-A-BULLs: Bulls continue strong start with impressive win over Pacers

Every team that falls on the wrong side of the playoff bubble can circle some part of their schedule and ponder to themselves what would have been if they’d gotten the job done. The Bulls are determined not to let that circle come from growing pains at the beginning of the season, and they showed it with an affirming victory over the Pacers on Saturday. Just days into the season, Coach Hoiberg has utilized his squad to do what is often easier said than done: outplay the other team. At 2-0, the Bulls looked like a team that wanted to start the season off well and not look back.

  • As expected, the Bulls started out with Rondo, Wade. Butler, Gibson and Lopez. The offense was a well-balanced, fine-tuned machine throughout the game. The Bulls were able to stay on the offensive by capitalizing on fast-break opportunities, while staying prepared and disciplined during transition.
  • In the 2nd quarter, the offense broke out. Accompanied by a respective defensive effort, the Bulls scored a fantastic 38 points, a quarter in which the Pacers have struggled thus far. Rondo racked up 6 of his 13 dimes on the night, while McDermott scored 7 points in as many minutes. The Bulls shot the ball 18 times, and managed to sink all but four.
  • Going into half with a 21 point-lead, the offense continued to attack, especially in transition, while putting up 30 more points in the 3rd With a healthy lead, Hoiberg let his bench finish off the job, lead my McDermott who finished off a 23-point performance with double digits in the final quarter. #11 was lights out behind the arc, finishing off 5-6, while Isaiah Canaan made the most of his time going 3-5 behind the arc.
  • Get used to it: Taj Gibson out-rebounded fellow big-man Robin Lopez, but Gibson was the only starter who didn’t snag an offensive board. Christiano Felicio looked like someone who could stick around in this team’s rotation. His 8 rebounds were impressive, while 3 of them came on the offensive glass. Butler and Wade did their parts as well by snagging 5 boards a piece. Don’t be surprised to see that trend continue.
  • Perhaps the most assuring stat of the offense’s balanced attack tonight was that nine players clocked at least 19 minutes tonight.
  • Six of the nine players who clocked 19+ mins. scored in double digits, and two of the three who did not (Rondo and Felicio) were impressive in their own right.
  • As will be the case throughout the season, Michael Carter-Williams had mixed results. His 5 assists were shadowed with 4 turnovers, while the scoring production wasn’t there. Rondo also had 4 turnovers, however, those would be the only 4 TO’s amongst the Bulls’ starters.
  • The most telling stat of the night? Every Bulls starter had a positive +/- rating while every Pacers starter had a negative rating. Not surprisingly, the Bulls had the edge in just about every team stat.
  • After shooting in the low 70% region from the line vs. Boston, the Bulls sunk 19 of their 21 shots from the line. While the starters were 100% from the line, none of them were able to cash in once from downtown.
  • As for the Pacers, there were plenty of areas that will need addressing. Teague and Ellis were a combined 1-13 from the field, contributing just two points between themselves. George and Turner each shot 66.67% from the field, while Thaddeus Young registered an adequate 10 points and 5 rebounds in 27 minutes of action. If Teague and Ellis can mold to their ideal roles, the Pacers too could have a well-balanced offense to be wary of.
  • Next up: The Bulls will take on the Nets (1-2) in a Halloween game at the Barclays Center.

BULLet Points: Bulls edge Pacers to keep slim playoff hopes alive

The Bulls (37-37) escaped Indy with a 98-96 win over the Pacers (39-35) to keep their playoff hopes alive and end a nasty four game skid. Jimmy Butler hit a game-winner with less that four seconds left and the Bulls live to fight another day in the heated Eastern Conference playoff push.

  • The story of this game for the Bulls was their bench. The bench combined to score an incredible 63 points on the night (64% of the team scoring) to propel the Bulls to victory. As a whole, the +/- of the group was +42, a clear indication of who did the heavy lifting on the night. With the starters struggling the bench was left to pick up the slack, and did so consistently. Nikola Mirotic, Aaron Brooks, and even Cristiano Felicio had their moments that kept the Bulls in the game.
  • The MVP of the night was hands down Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegro native went off in what was probably his best game as a Bull. He shot 9/18 including 7/13 from deep to end the night with 28 points (twice as much as anyone else on the team) and 10 boards. When the Bulls seemed to be fading in the second quarter, Mirotic single-handedly willed them back into the game with five treys in the period and had 20 points by halftime.
  • The Bulls needed Mirotic to be so huge because the starters were little to no help for a desperate Bulls squad. As a group they shot 33% (15/45) and were a combined -32 against the Pacers. It seemed like every time they came in, they instantly killed any momentum built up by the bench mob. This included the fourth quarter when the starting unit combined for an abysmal two points in the frame. Fortunately, it was Butler’s game-winner.
  • Derrick Rose, playing with a banged-up left elbow, played one of his worst games in recent memory. The guard never showed any sense of rhythm and shot the ball poorly (4/15). He ended the night with just eight points and stagnated the offense more than being a playmaker for it.
  • Dunleavy and Gasol also struggled on Tuesday night. While Gasol recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, he also turned it over an alarming seven times. Dunleavy on the other hand scored only three points in 17 minutes. He needs to pick it up soon.
  • One of the starters, Taj Gibson, did not end the game. Gibson was taken off at halftime and would not return with what is being called a rib contusion. Rib contusions aren’t usually too serious, but in the middle of a playoff push down the stretch, Gibson missing any games would be a monumental loss for a Bulls team that is already banged up pretty badly.
  • It’s time for our daily “what was Hoiberg thinking?” section of BULLet Points. What was Hoiberg thinking when he pulled the bench mob so early in the fourth and other parts of the game?
  • The reserves were clearly the better unit throughout the night and were the only ones generating offense. The Bulls starters entered the game with seven minutes remaining and promptly scored five points the remainder of the game. If it weren’t for the Pacers awful shooting the Bulls would have been buried in this one.
  • Hoiberg has gone away from the hot hand on several occasions this season and Tuesday night was no different. The coach seemed to have little feel for the flow of the game and the quality of his players against Indy when making his substitutions.
  • Paul George and Ian Mahinmi were the lone Pacers to score in double-figures against the Bulls with 20 and 18, respectively. The rest of their team had an off shooting night to say the least. The Pacer’s shot 43% and an even worse 16% (3/19) from downtown.
  • Coming up: The Bulls take on James Harden and the Rockets in Houston on Thursday night in what boils down to another must-win for this squad.

BULLet Points: Jimmy wills Bulls to OT victory over Pacers

  • Jimmy Butler somehow found a way to put a pretty bow on a game that was anything but aesthetically pleasing. The Bulls scratched and clawed their way to a 102-100 overtime win over the Pacers at the UC on Wednesday night. The win was the Bulls third in their last four games, and this one came without the help of Derrick Rose, who sat out due to tightness in his hamstring.
  • Playing without Rose, Butler was the clear alpha dog for the Bulls on the night. He struggled getting going at first, only putting up five points in the first half when it looked like he was forcing the action too much to compensate for Rose’s absence. But Butler picked up his game big time in the second half, and especially down the stretch, ending the game with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. That included the game winning basket with 1.2 seconds remaining when Pau Gasol lobbed up an alley-oop pass from the top of the key to Butler who put a magisterial touch on it to float it home to Paul George’s bewilderment.

  • What probably went unnoticed from Butler’s night however was his extraordinary defense on Paul George. He held one of the best players in the league to 7/20 shooting and forced him into three turnovers while keeping him off-balance all night. This allowed the Bulls to stay in the game while the offense struggled through a 16 point third quarter.
  • I’m officially all-in on Bench Mob 2.0. PBS (Portis, Brooks, and Snell) all did their part in contributing to this victory. Brooks led all scorers in the game with 29 points and 5 assists. Of course he also turned the ball over six times, which we’ll get to later, but his key plays down the stretch more than made up for some of his mistakes. Portis had another strong performance recording 16 points and seven rebounds on 7/12 shooting. Finally, Snell, whose numbers don’t tell the whole story. He only shot 1/6 and totaled only two points, but he also grabbed 7 boards and was a +14 on the night. His defense also caused havoc for the Pacers all night as his long wing-span helped force turnovers. The Bench Mob 2.0 was the sole reason the Bulls had any sort of lead at halftime with Butler struggling the entire first half.
  • Things weren’t all rainbows and sunshine on the night as the Bulls turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 27 points off turnovers, which kept the Pacers in the game despite shooting only 38.1% on the night. The Bulls lacked a killer instinct yet again after going up by as many as 14 in the 3rd quarter. They became complacent and flat-footed leading to no ball movement and forced passes into the paint which led to the aforementioned turnovers. If it weren’t for some Jimmy Butler heroics, the heart on this team would have been called into question after losing out on nearly every 50/50 ball in the 2nd half.
  • Another somber note is reserved for Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegro native scored a grand total of zero points in his 20 minutes on the floor, bringing his total to two points over 37 minutes played in his previous 2 games. It is no mystery that Mirotic struggles on the defensive side of the floor, so leaving him on the court for almost half the game when he can’t score calls into question the rotations Hoiberg is using when the team is struggling on offense like in the 3rd quarter tonight.
  • Coming up: The Bulls ring in the New Year by hosting 3 6 Latvia (Kristaps Porzingis) and the New York Knickerbockers on January 1st. Happy New Years!

BULLet Points: Pacers dominate Bulls to end circus trip

  • The Bulls got off to a quick start, but Indiana adjusted fast and took control of the game, ultimately winning 104-92. The Bulls never really made it that interesting.
  • Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose each had forgettable nights, with Rose in particular continuing to struggle badly. He was 4/16 from the field for 10 points with six rebounds and five assists. He’s now shooting 36.3% this season and 21.4% from long range. Rose has converted only 44.7% within three feet and 30% from 3-10 feet out. Hopefully a lot of issues are coming from the mask and vision problems, but this version of Rose is not a starting point guard in the NBA. The Bulls need a turnaround fast.
  • Butler finished with 16 points, five rebounds and five dimes but he struggled to make an impact for long stretches of the game. Paul George–back and better than ever–mostly had his way against Butler, finishing with 33 points and eight boards. After the game, Jimmy acknowledged that he’s playing through a lower leg injury of unknown severity. It’s extremely discouraging that the Bulls are apparently mishandling injuries once again, seeing as Butler is currently third in the NBA in minutes per game. #Pray4Jimmy
  • Pau Gasol could not handle Indiana’s new smallball identity. The Pacers started CJ Miles and Paul George at the forward spots and operate with tons of floor space due to the amount of shooting around the perimeter. Gasol was constantly too slow to hit his rotations and overwhelmed offensively, finishing 4/16 from the field. His offensive effectiveness is dwindling while the NBA’s move toward small lineups and flexibility makes Gasol even more of a liability some nights. The Bulls need to bring him off the bench, where he can regain some efficiency by taking on reserve bigs in the post.

  • Niko Mirotic was the best player for Chicago and his potential is really magnified against teams that like to play small. With Paul George guarding Butler, CJ Miles was forced to match up with Mirotic. Niko constantly kept Miles off guard with his unique blend of quick shots, pump fakes, and goofy drives that somehow often end in free throws. Mirotic has had major struggles with his shot and consistency this season, but the Bulls can only be their best when his skills are emphasized. Hoiberg needs to be more aggressive about keeping Niko on the floor when other teams try to win by going small. He finished with 25 points and seven boards in 29 minutes and a plus/minus of -4. The Bulls were -8 in the 19 minutes he sat.
  • Kirk Hinrich continued to play pretty well, adding 11 points and two assists off the bench in 22 minutes. The Bulls were +4 in his minutes and sadly may be a better team with him at point guard over Rose at the moment.
  • CJ Miles went nuts in the first half with 16 points but was shut down afterward. He’s had a nice stretch playing next to George in Indiana’s small system. Lavoy Allen added 12 and 10 off the bench as the Bulls bigs were simply too slow to keep up with his activity. None of the Chicago frontcourt is playing good defense right now.
  • Indiana may have stumbled onto something pretty solid with their new identity. They’ve won 10 of 12 and Paul George looks every bit as good, if not better, as he did in 2013-14. Much ado was made about George being hesitant to bang with big men as a power forward, but Indiana has smartly used him as both a wing and a big. He’s too good of a perimeter defender to abandon that ability, as the Bulls saw firsthand with George guarding Jimmy.
  • Coming up: the Bulls return home to take on the surging San Antonio Spurs.