Post-Game Grades: Pacers Destroy Bulls in Second Half

The pecking order in the Central Division has been settled. At least for now.

Despite a second straight game with a horrendous second quarter (9 points last night in Detroit; 12 tonight against Chicago), the Pacers still managed to take control of the game in the second half and then blow out the Bulls.

The bad second period left them in a six-point hole at the break, but that was all erased when the Pacers dismantled the Bulls to the tune of 60-37 over the final 24 minutes.

It was an all-around team effort. As he has been in every contest this season, Paul George was the best player over the whole game, but as he has often been throughout this young season, the young Lance Stephenson was the one who had a multi-minute flurry of fury for which the opposition had no answer.

In the fourth quarter, Stephenson hit a pair of threes, a couple free throws and a layup on his way to 12 points in the period. During his 7:32 on the court, Indiana outscored Chicago by 21 points.

Luis Scola was the other huge difference maker late. He hit some jumpers (one the benefit of a nice Lance draw-and-dish) and created some offense on his own by getting a steal and taking it all the way to the rack. It was his best game of the year — which was even nicer since David West and Roy Hibbert were both the best versions of themselves at different times during this one. It has long been the theoretical case, but now we truly know that this front court can be a terror when these three get going — and this wasn’t even near peak performance.

I’m almost forgetting to mention it at this point because it’s so routine, but Indiana’s defense was stalwart throughout.

Frank Vogel’s boys held the Bulls to a meager 35.6% shooting on the night, and after a slightly weak start, there really was no let up. In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters, respectively, Chicago shot 47.4% (9-for-19), 35.3% (6-for-17), 25.0% (5-for-20), and 35.3% (6-for-17). For those scoring at home, that’s 11 total field goals for the losers in the final 24 minutes. Bully ball.

The Bulls also coughed the ball up 18 times (11 in the second half), which led to 29 Pacer points. On a night when the Pacers’ offense wasn’t always humming, winning the takeaway battle and exploiting that margin so adeptly is what turns a tough win into a blowout.

The Bulls aren’t yet the Bulls that the Bulls will be.

ESPN Stats & Info noted after the game that that Derrick Rose now has more turnovers than assists in all his games this year. Joakim Noah, too, is not himself.

But the Pacers don’t care.

They just dressed down the once-class of the division and, at least for now, are the new bullies of the Central. Oh, and also the entire NBA for that matter.

You never want to get too high in November — especially given that this semi-competent Bulls team is the first scary opponent Indiana has faced — but no team in the league looks better right now.

Chicago Bulls 80 FinalRecap | Box Score 97 Indiana Pacers

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at Jared (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West, PF 31 MIN | 8-16 FG | 1-2 FT | 13 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 17 PTS | +20

Best game of the year for David. Mr. West is in the building. Did his best work late after starting the game off, I believe, 2-of-7. And though it wasn’t really needed, showed some tenacity late by getting Indiana some extra possessions to ensure no miracle comeback by the Bulls could ensue.

Paul George, SF 39 MIN | 6-19 FG | 7-7 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +28

Murderous material made by a mad man. His line tonights wasn’t as good as we’ve become accustomed to, but still pretty darn sweet. The FTAs are the most encouraging, especially those earned late when he didn’t settle for Js. Also moved over to check Rose as Indiana pulled away in the fourth.

Roy Hibbert, C 37 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 5 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +31

He is up to 27 blocks now in 5 games. Absurd. As long as he’s defending the rim like that, any points he adds are gravy.

C.J. Watson, PG 27 MIN | 3-5 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +22

Man. What a steady, solid, good acquisition he has been so far. Don’t think the Pacers start off 5-0 with any of the other backup point guards they have had in recent years starting.

Lance Stephenson, SG 32 MIN | 5-17 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +20

Another shaky start in a game during which he COMPLETELY REDEEMED hisself. Couldn’t hit oxygen early, but then Lance Person, aka, Chuck Stephenson, aka Born Rifleman* showed up to put a bullet in Chicago’s head. Made some nice passes and got to the hoop as well. This guy.

* (c) @Bubstermania

Luis Scola, PF 16 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 12 PTS | -1

Best game as a Pacer. Was just stellar in the fourth quarter. He was silky from the midrange, then found some rhythm with Lance, and managed to take a lovely open-court steal all the way to the house for a layup. The bench catalyst Indiana needs.

Chris Copeland, SF 1 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Garbage time.

Solomon Hill, SF 7 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3

Didn’t play much.

Ian Mahinmi, C 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 0 PTS | -12

Wasn’t good. Left with an injury.

Donald Sloan, PG 21 MIN | 4-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | -5

Was good. Very good. Really like this guy. Indiana has seemingly countless starting point guards who couldn’t manage a line this sweet in 40 minutes of action.

Orlando Johnson, SG 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -17

Some good, some bad. Pretty Pulp-like.

Rasual Butler, SG 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2

Garbage time.

Tags: Game Recap

  • Jackson

    How does Mahinmi get so many TOs when he doesn’t do anything on offense but rebound and set screens?

    • Realist

      Agreed. Mahinmi was brutal.

    • Joe Betz

      He got called for two moving screens, one of which was complete bs.

  • Realist

    Lucky for the Bulls we’re not their rival. Their record against their “rivals” is bad enough as it is. No GH. No DG. SEGABABA. Full strength Bulls team, rested. I like, I like.

    Our “undefeated” tag actually has some clout after that game.

  • Realist

    Also, Born Rifleman is gold, Jerry. Gold.

  • Joe Betz

    Pacers played very well and avoided the complete 2nd quarter meltdown. Vogel admitted he needs to do something different for that end of first half-way through second quarter unit…different offense or different guys. Copeland should be getting 7-10 minutes a game…hoping he starts to enter into the second quarter rotation moving forward.

    • Realist

      Especially with DG out.

  • Ian

    What a game. Bizarre officiating (I think the Pacers got two breaks, one on the ‘clear path’ call and the other on the flagrant foul), lots of hard calls overlooked and tons of ticky tac fouls called on both teams.

    I like that Sloan and Watson are two more big PGs, that means we don’t have to completely readjust our schemes unlike with Collison and DJ. I don’t know if we can count on Sloan playing that way on a regular basis but wow he looked so comfortable out there and CJ has been better than anyone could have hoped, so solid. You never cringe when he’s bringing up the ball.

    I like what the P’s did on the Bull’s ball handlers in the 4th. My understanding its the same thing the Heat did against them the whole game. They consistently jumped the screens and trapped Rose and Hindrich, which resulted in multiple turnovers/fast breaks. It was awesome seeing Paul on Rose at the end, his length means he can play a couple steps off and still be ready to challenge shots.

    Scola is no Miles Plumlee! (And that would be funnier before Plumlee turned into a useful player in Phoenix). I didn’t realize he had such good touch from 18 feet. He also seemed to bring a ton of energy. For guy whose reputation is under-athletic and under-sized, if he comes with that effort level every night the Pacers bench will be fantastic.

  • Philip Tarrant

    Sloan and Watson have been huge. Enormous. The way they’ve both stepped up in Hill’s absence and played well in bigger roles to great success has been key to our 5-0 start. It’s hard to single in on any position as the reason for this as it’s been a consummate team effort and everyone has stepped up.

    Hibbert has been ungodly roughing up the competition in the paint. On the glass and defensively, he’s been an enforcer. He’s started off strong for his goal of DPOY (a personal goal that I like). PG24 has been a phenom. Lance has stepped it up in big situations despite coming out too hot in some games and taking time to settle down. West finally looked good (great post-1st quarter). Scola is a mid-range assassin and isn’t a liability defensively. Ian has done well in his limited role though is no HIbbert and the D cannot hope to perform at the same level with anyone replacing Hibb, but he’s been mainly good. OJ has provided some scoring spark. And that’s why we’ve been the best team in the NBA to this point. Everyone’s contributed.

  • tom kester

    I believe the Flurry of Fury will be Lance’s new signature drink at DQ.

  • Anthony Canton III

    Check this podcast I did with Quinn Buckner on the Pacers 5-0 start and their title chances.