BULLS 101 – PACERS 111
It’s been a rough three games for the Chicago Bulls. They played without Carlos Boozer (hamstring), Joakim Noah (plantir fisciitis) and Kirk Hinrich (infected elbow… a burst bursa sac?) on Friday and Saturday nights, and went 1-1.
Tonight they got Carlos Boozer back for 23 minutes, but it just wasn’t enough to lift the Bulls over a red hot Indiana Pacers team.
Try as they may, try as they might, the Bulls almost snagged one away from the Pacers tonight in Indiana. The Pacers were winning 98-94 with 1:18 left in the game when Paul George, the catalyst for this surging Pacers team, hit a three pointer to make the game 101-94, and the Bulls never found away to cut the gap shorter than that the rest of the way.
It was a good balance of scoring for the Bulls, as all five starters scored in the double digits. It was newly named Eastern Conference player of the week Nate Robinson who lead the starters with 19 points and 9 assists on top of that.
Taj Gibson, who has been playing great in Noah and Boozer’s absence but playing big minutes, went for another 44 minutes tonight. He got a double double going 10 and 11, but you could tell by the end of the game that his tank is starting to run on empty. Luckily for him, the Bulls don’t play again until Thursday. Joakim Noah is also expected to make his return that night.
(Here’s a fun story from the game. Joakim Noah was on the bench tonight with the Bulls, dressed in his street clothes. He was wearing a sweater and a pair of skinny jeans. When you’re injured and you want to sit with your team on the bench in the NBA, you need to wear a suit. He was asked to leave the bench due to inappropriate dress code, and returned after he borrowed Nate Robinson’s dress shirt + suit coat. Keep in mind, Nate Robinson is 5’9” and Joakim Noah is 6’11”. Needless to say, Nate’s coat went about halfway down Noah’s arm. It was funny, don’t judge me for including it in the story.)
The real highlight for the Bulls though was the play of Marco Belinelli. His shot hasn’t been too hot lately, but tonight he got back into the swing of things. He scored 24 points on 9 of 13 shooting in 24 minutes off the bench. I know what you’re thinking right now, “wow, that’s pretty impressive!” But wait, there’s more! Late in the first quarter, Marco Belinelli came down hard and clutched his ankle. That’s what the Bulls need. Another injury. He went to the locker room, got his sprained ankle taped up, and returned to the game with a vengeance.
The Pacers were just too big for the Bulls to handle. The Bulls got out-rebounded 47 to 35, and power forward David West had 29 points on top of George Hill’s 22 and Paul George’s 21.
I think it may have been a good game for Nazr Mohammed to have gotten some playing time, since the only big guy the Bulls had in their for a majority of the game was Taj Gibson. But hey, I’m not the coach. The Bulls still played a very good, competitive game, against a Pacers team who is now 19-3 at home. If anything, it’s games like these that should prove how strong the Bulls bench is and how good the Bulls will be when they get Derrick Rose back.
Even when we lose games like these, you should still be getting pumped up for The Return.
The Bulls (29-19) play next on Thursday, in Denver, against a 30-18 Nuggets team. Joakim Noah is expected back and Carlos Boozer should be getting some more time. No word yet on Kirk Hinrich’s return, but that’s okay. We’ve got the Eastern Conference player of the week on our team.