The Bulls blew a tire and crashed in Indianapolis Saturday, their first uncompetitive game of the season in a 111-94 loss to the Pacers.
The Bulls trailed the entire game and by double digits since late in the first quarter and by 20 or more much of the game. The Bulls were behind by 19 at halftime and 24 after three even as Paul George was ejected in the third quarter for kicking a ball into the stands with a 20-point lead.
Jimmy Butler led the Bulls with 16 points, though no Bulls starter played in the fourth quarter. Bobby Portis had 14 points, all in the fourth quarter. Doug McDermott and Robin Lopez had 12 points and Taj Gibson nine points and 12 rebounds. Dwyane Wade struggled with four points on one of nine shooting.
Playing the second in their inaugural back-to-back set of the season after the tense game against the Knicks Friday, the Bulls looked emotionally spent to start. They committed turnovers in three of their first four possessions and were trailing by a dozen points seven minutes into the game. And then it got worse in the first half. The Pacers took advantage of the Bulls lack of aggression on defensive switches, getting open shots that led to Indiana shooting 62 percent for the first half. The Pacers led 31-15 after the first quarter with the Bulls committing seven turnovers and the Pacers shooting 58 percent.
The Bulls had more turnovers than field goals in the quarter. Indiana continued to pour it on in taking a 40-19 lead in the first two and a half minutes of the second quarter. The Bulls got a little boost from McDermott with 11 second quarter points, Chicago with 14 free throws driving the ball to six for the Pacers, who have been comfortable to stay outside and shoot. But the Bulls continued to provide little resistance on the perimeter as Indiana took a 62-43 lead at halftime. It was the first difficult start for Wade, who was zero for six shooting in the first half for two points. Wade came into the game first or second on the team in scoring, minutes played, steals and assists in carrying the team through tough stretches. Butler had 10 in the half and Gibson nine. The Bulls had seven assists in the half to 17 for Indiana.
It looked like the Bulls might climb back into the game in finally firing up their defense and holding the Pacers scoreless for almost the first four minutes of the third quarter. But the Bulls could get little going of their own with a Rajon Rondo and Lopez turnovers, a Rondo air ball and another pair of Wade misses, Wade missing his first eight before making a jumper.
The Pacers then scored in eight of nine possessions even as Paul George was ejected for kicking the ball in the stands. That series gave the Pacers an 88-64 lead after three quarters. The Bulls had 10 assists and 16 turnovers through three quarters. A group of five reserves gave the Bulls a nudge to open the fourth quarter with Jerian Grant and Portis scores. But a pair of C.J. Miles open threes sent the Bulls back to the bench trailing 97-71 with 7:48 against a Pacers team giving up the most points per game this season at 115 per game. The Bulls were scoring an average of 109 points through the first five games. Portis scored 10 straight for the Bulls late to cut the final deficit.
The Bulls are 3-3 with three straight losses and host Orlando Monday. Indiana is 3-3. The teams have split their two games, both winning at home.
By Sam Smith, Bulls.com
First appeared on NBA.com Global