Pacers miss chance vs Noah-less Bulls
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
CHICAGO — The Indiana Pacers had their chance to put their feet on the Chicago Bulls’ throats and take any remaining air out of them in the race for the Central Division.
Win and they’d be looking at the Bulls in the rearview mirror the rest of the season.
The Pacers looked like they were on their way to doing that for more than two quarters.
But, as he’s proven over and over the past two seasons, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau kept his team in the game long enough to give them the confidence that they could still win. The Bulls held the Pacers without a point for the first 3½ minutes of the fourth quarter in their 87-84 victory Saturday night at the United Center.
Paul George missed two three-pointers on the Pacers’ final possession of the game.
“It’s tough to beat a team four times,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “I’m very proud of our guys’ effort, just fell short.”
The Pacers were brutal offensively in the fourth quarter.
They scored 17 points on 4-of-20 shooting. Half of those shots were three-pointers.
Center Roy Hibbert, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds, didn’t attempt a shot in the final quarter. He didn’t even go to the free-throw line in the quarter against a Bulls team without All-Star center Joakim Noah.
“I think we kind of went to a lot of jump shots,” George said. “We should have kept attacking. They did a great job of moving us.”
The Pacers managed to overcome their horrendous fourth quarter to still have a chance to send the game into overtime.
George Hill got the Pacers back to within three, 87-84, with 40 seconds left in the game when he completed a four-point play.
Bulls point guard Kirk Hinrich ended up isolated on Hibbert on the perimeter on the other end of the court. He drove the lane with the shot clock winding down, but missed the shot. The Pacers got the rebound and immediately called timeout with 15.1 seconds left.
They ran a play they’ve worked on numerous times at the end of practices. Everything worked perfectly, except for the ball going through the … [For more on Pacers miss prime chance vs. Joakim Noah-less Bulls, click here.]