Bulls-Pacers Preview: Round 2…Fight

Update: According to Nick Friedell and K. C. Johnson, Rip Hamilton will start tonight. Ronnie Brewer will come in off the bench.

In a rematch of that last awesome preseason game, Chicago and Indiana face off tonight, again, this time at the United Center. This is the last tune-up game before the Bulls season opener on Christmas Day in Los Angeles.

In the last game, the Pacers came out of the gate hot and Chicago’s defense was far too slow in figuring out a way to stop them. The Pacers hit eight of their first ten shots, and went on to shot 60 percent in the first quarter.

The Bulls defense would improve throughout the game, though. With Tom Thibodeau’s raspy voice in their ear the Bulls held Indiana to just over 25 percent shooting the rest of the way. That put Indy at 33.7 percent for the game. That number is partly due to the Bulls defense, but some credit has to go to the lockout and the limited practices the teams have had.

Either way, the fact that Chicago held the Pacers under 35 percent shooting is a good sign for their defense going forward.

Chicago fared better, shooting nearly 50 percent, with much of that coming from the bench. Carlos Boozer shot poorly, going 3-10 in his 22 minutes. Derrick Rose scored 16 points thanks to 10-10 shooting at the line, but didn’t do too well from the field (3-9). Despite Rose’s rough shooting game, he was the only starter with a positive plus/minus at +6.

Luol Deng had a solid game scoring 16 points (5-11 from the field, 6-6 from the line) and six rebounds, but gave the ball up five times. Joakim Noah had ten point and eight rebounds in 24 minutes, but had five fouls (Boozer, not to be outdone, had five of those as well).

C.J. Watson carried the Bulls offensively when Rose went out with foul trouble early in the game. Watson finished with 15 points and four boards.  Bulls rookie Jimmy Butler made all three of his shots from the field, finishing with eight points and a game best +23.

Chicago’s other new addition, Rip Hamilton, didn’t play, and may not play in Tuesday’s game either.

All fans can really hope for is that the Bulls look better than they did last time out; perhaps start a little faster and don’t allow Tyler Hansbrough to drop 19 points. Usually you hope for improvement over last season, but with no offseason, as long as Chicago looks like they are on the road to where they were last year, tonight’s game will be a good sign for things to come.

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