BULLet Points: Bulls edge Pacers to keep slim playoff hopes alive

The Bulls (37-37) escaped Indy with a 98-96 win over the Pacers (39-35) to keep their playoff hopes alive and end a nasty four game skid. Jimmy Butler hit a game-winner with less that four seconds left and the Bulls live to fight another day in the heated Eastern Conference playoff push.

  • The story of this game for the Bulls was their bench. The bench combined to score an incredible 63 points on the night (64% of the team scoring) to propel the Bulls to victory. As a whole, the +/- of the group was +42, a clear indication of who did the heavy lifting on the night. With the starters struggling the bench was left to pick up the slack, and did so consistently. Nikola Mirotic, Aaron Brooks, and even Cristiano Felicio had their moments that kept the Bulls in the game.
  • The MVP of the night was hands down Nikola Mirotic. The Montenegro native went off in what was probably his best game as a Bull. He shot 9/18 including 7/13 from deep to end the night with 28 points (twice as much as anyone else on the team) and 10 boards. When the Bulls seemed to be fading in the second quarter, Mirotic single-handedly willed them back into the game with five treys in the period and had 20 points by halftime.
  • The Bulls needed Mirotic to be so huge because the starters were little to no help for a desperate Bulls squad. As a group they shot 33% (15/45) and were a combined -32 against the Pacers. It seemed like every time they came in, they instantly killed any momentum built up by the bench mob. This included the fourth quarter when the starting unit combined for an abysmal two points in the frame. Fortunately, it was Butler’s game-winner.
  • Derrick Rose, playing with a banged-up left elbow, played one of his worst games in recent memory. The guard never showed any sense of rhythm and shot the ball poorly (4/15). He ended the night with just eight points and stagnated the offense more than being a playmaker for it.
  • Dunleavy and Gasol also struggled on Tuesday night. While Gasol recorded a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, he also turned it over an alarming seven times. Dunleavy on the other hand scored only three points in 17 minutes. He needs to pick it up soon.
  • One of the starters, Taj Gibson, did not end the game. Gibson was taken off at halftime and would not return with what is being called a rib contusion. Rib contusions aren’t usually too serious, but in the middle of a playoff push down the stretch, Gibson missing any games would be a monumental loss for a Bulls team that is already banged up pretty badly.
  • It’s time for our daily “what was Hoiberg thinking?” section of BULLet Points. What was Hoiberg thinking when he pulled the bench mob so early in the fourth and other parts of the game?
  • The reserves were clearly the better unit throughout the night and were the only ones generating offense. The Bulls starters entered the game with seven minutes remaining and promptly scored five points the remainder of the game. If it weren’t for the Pacers awful shooting the Bulls would have been buried in this one.
  • Hoiberg has gone away from the hot hand on several occasions this season and Tuesday night was no different. The coach seemed to have little feel for the flow of the game and the quality of his players against Indy when making his substitutions.
  • Paul George and Ian Mahinmi were the lone Pacers to score in double-figures against the Bulls with 20 and 18, respectively. The rest of their team had an off shooting night to say the least. The Pacer’s shot 43% and an even worse 16% (3/19) from downtown.
  • Coming up: The Bulls take on James Harden and the Rockets in Houston on Thursday night in what boils down to another must-win for this squad.
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2 thoughts on “BULLet Points: Bulls edge Pacers to keep slim playoff hopes alive”

  1. I’m not a fan of the NBA. The college game is much more enjoyable to watch. Actually your blog makes the Bulls game more interesting than the game itself. Great writing.

    Like

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