Breaking the Conseco curse: Bulls 109, Pacers 101

Going into last night’s game, Chicago had compiled a 3-17 record at Conseco Fieldhouse since Indy’s basketball palace first opened in 1999. And it’s not like the Pacers have been a powerhouse team the last several seasons. For whatever reason, the Bulls simply haven’t been able to win there.

That all changed last night. I have to admit, though, it looked like they were destined to leave Indianapolis with a 3-18 record at Conseco. For most of the game, the Bulls played defense like were just waiting to get back on offense. The Pacers scored 60 points in the first half and had 86 through three quarters.

Fortunately, Chicago finally put the clamps on in the fourth quarter, during which Indiana scored only 15 points on 33 percent shooting. It helped that Danny Granger (27 points, 9-for-23) was chucking up jumper after jumper, and Roy Hibbert (4-for-13) was just flinging the ball at the basket. The Bulls also forced six turnovers in the final quarter, thanks to the fact that the Pacers are forced to masquerade Earl Watson and T.J. Ford as point guards.

Said Kirk Hinrich: “We were able to string some stops together, and we did a good job of moving the ball down the stretch. Guys just started making simple plays, and it seemed like things started going our way when we got some stops.”

Another huge factor in this game was Chicago’s aggressiveness. The Bulls forced the action toward the hoop, earning 33 free throw attempts to only 19 for the Pacers. A big reason for that was the play of John Salmons, who scored 21 points of te Bulls bench by going 7-for-10 from the field and 7-for-10 at the charity stripe.

Said Salmons: “I felt pretty good tonight. I wanted to attack the rim as much as possible. I feel that by doing that, I can take a lot of pressure off Derrick Rose so he doesn’t have to make all the plays for us. He’s been doing a great job of that for us lately.”

Rose finished with 21 points (9-for-18) and a game-high 7 assists. Unfortunately, Derrick also tied Watson with a game-high 5 turnovers. But he began and ended a 9-0 fourth quarter run with a three-point play and a long jumper that turned a 92-86 deficit into a 96-92 lead. And the Bulls never looked back.

Said Pacers coach Jim O’Brien: “Rose in the open court was the difference in the basketball game. He attacks like a running back. There is no point guard in the league that can guard him one on one.”

O’Brien is exactly right. I just wish Derrick would use his gifts to draw more fouls. Rose finished with three foul shots, and he’s averaging only four attempts per game on the season. Free throws are what sustain a team down the stretch and during those long stretches when their offense gets out of whack. Given his speed and strength, there’s no reason Rose shouldn’t be getting seven or eight foul shots a night.

Not that I’m trying to nitpick or anything.

Luol Deng had an…unusual game. He scored a team-high 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocked shots. But after a fire-and-lightning first quarter in which he scored 14 points, Deng just kind of hung back on offense. This has been a recurring theme for Luol lately: A strong first quarter followed by three quiet ones. I don’t know if he’s pulling back on his own or whether Vinny Del Negro just stops calling his number. All I know is that if Deng ever plays a full game the way he’s been starting them, he’s going to score 50 one of these days.

In case you’re wondering, Tyrus Thomas behaved himself, and nearly ended up with a double-double (9 points, 7 boards) in 28 minutes. The numbers aren’t great, but he provided some stability off the bench, which is all Vinny has been asking of him.

The good news is the Bulls (23-23) made it back to .500. The bad news is they have to face Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic tonight in Chicago. On the second night of back-to-backs. Without Joakim Noah. That’s a pretty tall order. Let’s hope the team is up to the challenge. It would be nice to be above .500 before the All-Star break for a change.

Timeout Tally:
1st timeout: Deng fouled by Granger (2-for-2)
2nd timeout: Hinrich three-pointer (Rose assists)
3rd timeout: Rose missed three-pointer
4th timeout: Miller layup and the foul (1-for-1)
5th timeout: Miller missed jumper

Note that Derrick’s three-pointer was an attempt to beat the halftime buzzer on a play that started with only two seconds left on the clock. So that “failure” after the timeout can be forgiven. If we scratch that possession, the Bulls were successful on four of five post-timeout possessions. Note also that Chicago went on a 10-3 run after the first timeout.

Extras:
Recap, Box Score, Advanced Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

,

12 Responses to Breaking the Conseco curse: Bulls 109, Pacers 101

  1. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. February 10, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    Matt–

    I agree that Rose should get to the foul line more. Ironically, though, part of the problem is his unique skill set when driving to the basket. He is so strong, and so rarely denied a decent shot attempt, that he receives fewer calls than he should. A normal PG would be knocked to the floor in many instances, and refs would be more inclined to call. fouls. Rose is not only rarely knocked down, but has the ability to adjust in mid-air and still get reasonable shots off. That’s a double-edged sword.

    As for the timeouts, the Pacers defense is so bad that I’m not surprised at the high percentage.

  2. mikemayer3@hotmail.com'
    thirdsaint February 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    As frustrating as Tyrus has been his entire career, last night was one of those games where he seemed to understand his role. I doubt this whole incident will wake him up but it was comforting to see him pass up the open jump shot and attack the rim.

    I think last night was a case of Deng’s number not being called. With the matador Dunleavy defending him (or not) they constantly went to Deng, and then Salmons. After that 1st quarter when O’Brien finaly realized ol’ Mike was killing his team on both ends they stopped going to Deng. I agree he could very well score 50 one day.

    Tonight will be tough. Normally Howard abuses Noah anyhow but without him Howard is going to MURDER Gibson, Miller, and Richards. This is one of those cases where you can’t stop Howard so you may as well focus on everyone else.

  3. tc643@hotmail.com'
    Tony C. February 10, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    thirdsaint –

    Oddly enough, Richard is the type of player that might be able to frustrate Howard a bit.

  4. mikemayer3@hotmail.com'
    thirdsaint February 10, 2010 at 4:41 pm #

    Maybe a little but I get the sense from watching him that he doesn’t have his legs under him yet. He’s alright on the defensive end but he couldn’t hit the rim yesterday if his life depended on it. The only time he did was on his attempted dunk and he even missed that. Granted, we didn’t bring him in for offense, but he looks a little shaky like he’s trying to catch up to the full speed of the NBA.

    I think no matter who we put on Howard he’s going to destroy them so we need to focus on shutting down Carter, Lewis, and the other shooters. Can’t let Barnes get open too because he was lighting us up last time.

  5. mears54321@yahoo.com'
    chad February 10, 2010 at 5:08 pm #

    Drafting Tyrus instead of Aldridge enabled the Bulls to be bad enough 2 years ago to be given the #1 pick and draft Derrick Rose, the best point guard the Bulls have ever had. Give the Bulls time to grow together, they have the talent they need. Tyrus won’t get a lot of money next year since he didn’t do much this year. So sign Tyrus next year. The team will be fine if they keep the same guys they have this year. Salmons and Hinrich are solid players. It wasn’t just Brad Miller that made the Bulls win all those games last year right after they made the trade at the trading deadline. Be a team who who grows through their own drafts. Don’t be the Yankees who buy championships by stealing players away from teams who drafted them. Let James stay in Cleveland and let Cleveland’s fans have some happiness after all those bad years. Bulls can beat Cleveland without James. If the Bulls must make a trade, get a 2 guard who can score, and can defend better than Gordon. Sign Wade if you can get rid of Hinrich and Salmons contract. Wade would love to play on a team with Rose, Noah, and a focused Tyrus to throw lobs to. When Tyrus isn’t focused he can go back to the bench. But he’s a good weapon to have available when the rest of the team is struggling or tired and needs a boost.

  6. bullsbythehorns@gmail.com'
    Matt McHale February 10, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    “As for the timeouts, the Pacers defense is so bad that I’m not surprised at the high percentage.”

    Hey! The Pacers are 18th in Defensive Effici…oh, right.

    “As frustrating as Tyrus has been his entire career, last night was one of those games where he seemed to understand his role. I doubt this whole incident will wake him up but it was comforting to see him pass up the open jump shot and attack the rim.”

    Yeah, I was thoroughly satisfied with Ty’s contribution last night. I figure we have three or four solid games from him before he goes back into “ME, ME, ME!” mode.

    “Oddly enough, Richard is the type of player that might be able to frustrate Howard a bit.”

    Yup. Big body. Hungry. Six fouls.

    “I think no matter who we put on Howard he’s going to destroy them so we need to focus on shutting down Carter, Lewis, and the other shooters. Can’t let Barnes get open too because he was lighting us up last time.”

    I’m hoping that Carter’s big game against the Hornets created the perception that he’s back, leading to a, let’s say, 5-for-19 performance from him and some all-around ball-hoggery. The Bulls best defense may be Carter’s offense.

    Unless he really IS back…

    “So sign Tyrus next year.”

    I just can’t see that happening. Not now. And not just because of his recent tirade against VDN. I think the team is tired of his inconsistency. Let’s say you had a car that drove like one of the best cars in the world…but only every fourth or fifth time you used it. The rest of the time, it constantly stalls, or backfires, or rattles, or gets a flat tire. Would you keep it?

  7. mikemayer3@hotmail.com'
    thirdsaint February 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm #

    Hah, good analogy Matt. We all knew Tyrus would be a project but his attitude and IQ have hurt him enough to be on his way out. Maybe if he were coachable, constantly learning and improving, and a team first player we’d consider giving him more time. He’s none of those things and I wouldn’t doubt he feels he is and is worth more money than he deserves.

    I do agree that Richards will be good for 6 fouls (hopefully smart ones). The refs really seem to hate Gibson, maybe for no other reason than he’s a rookie, as he gets so many ridiculous ticky tack fouls called on him. I bet he’ll have 2 in the first 5 minutes again and Richards may follow suit. Definitely will be rooting for Vince Chucker to come out and whiff.

  8. Jeremy da pig fucker February 10, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    Fucking A. Couldn’t of written this article better myself. Than again, I only have a third grade education.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Evans, Martin get Kings by Knicks in OT (AP) | Sports Headlines Today - February 10, 2010

    [...] Breaking the Conseco curse: Bulls 109, Pacers 101 » By The Horns [...]

  2. Not a chance: Magic 107, Bulls 87 » By The Horns - February 11, 2010

    [...] you, Chicago was coming off a fourth-quarter comeback against the Pacers in Indianapolis the night before. The Bulls tend not to play very well on the second night of back-to-backs, and [...]

  3. I’ll take it, but…: Bulls 120, Pacers 110 » By The Horns - February 25, 2010

    [...] This is going to be a tough stretch. Even that Pacers game could be tougher than it looks on paper. After all, the Bulls are only 4-17 in Indiana since Conceco Field House opened in 1999. That place is a Bulls [...]

  4. No sweep for you: Pacers 100, Bulls 90 » By The Horns - February 28, 2010

    [...] on the road, where they are 12-19 on the season. And they were playing in Conseco Field House, where they are (somewhat inexplicably) 4-18 since that arena opened in 1999. More importantly, they were playing on the second night of back-to-backs…a situation in [...]

Leave a Reply

Designed by Anthony Bain