It was good news and bad news for the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. The good news was they got a critical piece of their starting lineup back in Carlos Boozer, making them a lot less shorthanded than they’ve been in the previous two games.
The bad news is they were facing their Central Division foe, the Indiana Pacers, who were coming off an impressive win over the Miami Heat. The Bulls would fall 111-101 in an unusually high-scoring game between two defensive-minded clubs.
It was the first time in 10 meetings that each team cracked the 100-point mark, and the Bulls' 41-game winning streak when the score 100 points or more has come to an end. Still, you liked the effort the team showed and the way they fought hard and battled still being down two key starters.
Marco Belinelli (24 points) led the Bulls in scoring off the bench. Despite injuring his ankle in the game, he was still very effective as he shot the ball extremely well going 9-13 from the field. Nate Robinson (19 points, 9 assists) continued the solid play that garnered him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, while Taj Gibson (10 points, 11 rebounds) did an admirable job at the center spot filling in for the injured Joakim Noah. All of the Bulls starters scored in double figures and the Bulls bench outscored their counterparts, 39-18. Chicago also did a great job taking care of the ball, turning it over just 10 times while forcing Indiana into 16 giveaways and scoring 14 points in the process.
Indiana had the advantage in the rebound margin, 47-35, and was able to score 19 points off the Bulls 10 turnovers. The Pacers were also a +4 scoring in the paint (42-38) and really excelled in transitions, outscoring the Bulls 12-4 in fast break points.
Joakim Noah and Kirk Hinrich are still sidelined with injuries. Noah is still dealing with plantar fasciitis, a problem that he’s had before, and Hinrich’s elbow from the burst bursa sac continues to be an issue. Fortunately, the All-Star break is just around the corner and guys will have a chance to rest up. But in the 10 days leading up to the break, the Bulls have some tough competition on their hands and continuing to play without key starters will makes those games tough to win.
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