The Pacers were blown out in the Windy City
1:29 AM, Mar. 06, 2012 | Written by Mike Wells |
CHICAGO – Beating the Bulls on their homecourt for the second time this season wasn’t going to be easy for the Pacers.
Not with Tom Thibodeau as the coach. Not with Derrick Rose still thinking about how the Pacers “celebrated” after winning at the United Center in January. Not with Joakim Noah having Roy Hibbert’s number.
The Bulls walked off the court at halftime trailing by one. But you didn’t get the sense that they were worried about losing to the Pacers.
Rose had only scored two points in the first half, so you knew he was going to get it going at some point in the second half. And once Rose gets going the rest of his teammates hop on and go along for the ride, too.
The Bulls blew the game open – and sent a very solid message along the way – in the third quarter with two big runs. The first was a 20-4 run. The second was an 11-2 run to end the third quarter with a 19-point lead.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel was very honest when asked if this was an indication of how much more work they have to do before they can be mentioned anywhere near the Bulls and Heat.
“Yeah, I guess so,” Vogel bluntly said about losing to those two teams by a total of 70 points this season.
What Monday and the two losses to Miami have shown is that the Bulls and Heat are clearly the best two teams in the East – and the NBA – and everybody else is miles behind them in the conference trying – and failing – to close the gap.
A couple of Pacers tried to brush off the loss by saying the season series with the Bulls is tied 1-1.
That’s 100 percent true, but that’s a poor way to look at it.
They could get by with that mind frame if the Bulls beat them by four or five points.
But 20 points?
Mentioning the season series was the last thing they should have been talking about after the Bulls worked them over.
Darren Collison played solid defense on Rose in the first half.
But where was Collison’s offensive game?
Collison went scoreless (0-of-6) in 31 minutes. You can’t let Rose rest on the defensive end of the court. Collison has to attack Rose the way he did in the playoffs last season.
Danny Granger never seemed to be in the game. He was 4-of-12 from the field, while Luol Deng scored 20 points. Deng, like Andre Iguodala, LeBron and Carmelo, gives Granger problems offensively. Each player presents different problems to Granger
Don’t think Noah wasn’t trying to send a message to Hibbert.
Noah, who started celebrating on the court early, grabbed 17 rebounds while also making Hibbert a non-factor on offense. Hibbert only took six shots and scored two points.
The Pacers are easy to defend, especially if you’re as good as the Bulls, if they’re not getting any production in the post.