This was a classic revenge game.
You know the story. The Pacers were the first team to win in Chicago this season. And they didn’t just win. They celebrated. On the court. In the visitor’s locker room. In an obvious way.
Derrick Rose didn’t like that. None of the Bulls did.
Said Rose: ”Yeah, that’s something that I don’t forget. I don’t know what they call it, but in my eyes it looked like they were celebrating … [In an] NBA game, say, ‘bye’ to the other opponent, then usually walk off, celebrate in the locker room. But it looked like they were celebrating.”
Added Carlos Boozer: ”We don’t take it lightly when a team beats and celebrates on our court. We don’t forget too easily either. We talked about all those things before the game … I just remember them jumping around and celebrating and we don’t like that. We don’t like anybody celebrating at our expense.”
You know what they say. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t shoot a bear in the butt with a BB gun. Don’t run with scissors. Don’t…you get the idea.
Lesson learned, Pacers?
Despite the lopsided final score, this game was competitive for 24 minutes. The Bulls were coming off a hard-fought win in Philadelphia the night before. Their legs were a little rubbery in the first half. Rose started bricked nine of his first 10 field goal attempts and the Pacers led 43-42 after two quarters.
Then there was a third quarter explosion.
The Bulls burst out of the break to outscore Indy 33-13 in the third quarter, which included two 9-0 runs and a 20-4 run overall. Rose drilled three three-pointers. Luol Deng nailed two. Floodgates were opened. Fire rained from the sky.
Medical crews are still scraping chunks of the Pacers out of the blast crater.
I always say that rebounding is a good indication of how badly a team wants a particular game because board work is about desire and effort. And check it: The Bulls outrebounded the Pacers 60-32. That included an 18-7 edge on the offensive glass.
Yeah. I’d say the Bulls wanted this one pretty badly. Even though they were shorthanded again. C.J. Watson (ankle) didn’t play and Rip Hamilton left less than two minutes into the game due to a shoulder injury.
Thank goodness for depth.
Ronnie Brewer stepped in and scored 12 points on 6-for-11 shooting to go with 7 boards and 2 assists. John Lucas III provided a spark by scoring 13 on 5-for-9 shooting (although he failed to register an assist). Taj Gibson nearly had a double-double (10 points, 9 boards, 3 blocks). Kyle Korver was 2-for-2 on threes.
Heck, even Brian “The Human Victory Cigar” Scalabrine scored two points in his one-minute stint.
In all, Chicago’s reserves finished with 46 points. The same as the starters.
Even minus a couple key players, the Bulls have more talent than the Pacers. But the real difference in this game was determination and pure grit.
Said Indiana coach Frank Vogel: ”Give credit to the Bulls. They won all the hustle stats tonight. They kicked our butts on the glass. They just took control in that third quarter, especially from the 3-point line. Our guys also had a bad shooting night.”
No kidding. Try a dismal 34.2 percent, including a 3-for-16 showing from beyond the arc. Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert and Darren Collisin — four of Indy’s five starters — were a combined 9-for-35.
So make it seven in a row for the Bulls who once again have the best record in the league despite all the injuries.
Speaking of which, no word yet on Rip or how long he may be out.
Said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau: ”He will be examined (Tuesday). He collided and it’s a shoulder. I thought it was a stinger. He tried to shake it off. That wasn’t the case. We’ll have to wait untill (Tuesday).”
I’m sure Bulls fans are in “Oh no…not again” mode with Hamilton, and ESPNChicago’s Jon Greenberg is openly questioning whether the team can ever count on Rip getting healthy. It’s hard to blame him. Hamilton can hardly string two or three injury-free games together these days.
But what can you do? Unless management makes a move by the March 15 trade deadline, the Bulls will go to war with what they have. And what they have has been pretty darn good so far. Again: best record in the league…even with all the injuries.
Bring on the Bucks.
Quote of the Night:
Noah: “Winning makes me happy. It’s not about double-doubles.”