Indiana Pacers (5-0) 97 Chicago Bulls (1-3) 80
To recap last night’s exciting game between the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls, I will say this, the Pacers are showing what a second half team they are becoming. I don’t mind if this trend of stepping it up in the second half continues AS LONG AS the first half isn’t completely lost. But last night’s game just showed that this trend of the past four games has continued, and maybe this is how the Pacers will find those ways to win. There was plenty of effort and plenty of game balls to throw out, but the team got the win and that moves this team to 5-0. Ohhhhh we’re halfway there, ohhhhh we’re almost to that 10 game streak! That was my singing that to the tune of Living on the Prayer. Now that I got my music reference out of the way, let’s talk more about this game.
The Pacers were able to get going in that first quarter with a lead of 25-19. It looked a little slow at first as both defenses were on their quarter, and I believe it was only 11-10 about halfway through that first quarter. The second quarter for the Pacers is where you really wondered where that strong first quarter went to as the team was only able to put up 12 points. 12 points won’t get it done many nights if you’re not coming out strong in that third quarter. If you want to know the mentality of this team, just look at what Frank Vogel had to say about it. He stated the lack of defense is what made the offense sputter in that second quarter. This is a team that prides itself on the defensive end, and last night guys were getting their hands in the Bulls as they went for steals and challenged shots. That’s what this team can do to make themselves that elite team. The strong second half effort will help too.
How about this for third quarter and fourth quarter totals? 26 points in the third quarter. 34 points in the fourth quarter. Every fourth quarter this season has been right near the 30 point range, which shows me this team is learning how to close out a game. Once again, it’s amazing to see that type of performance as you can look back just a couple of years ago, and those quarters would be the lowest quarters for the team. But now, if they’ve figured out that part of the game, just think what they can accomplish this regular season. If you want to know why this is such a team effort, look so far into this recap, and I’ve not talked about one player for the Pacers as I believe there were quite a few different standouts from the game.
Luis Scola finally put that type of performance that makes you believe the Pacers have a legit sixth man in him. 12 points might not seem like a huge number, but the fact that he looked very comfortable out there making those shots is what makes me believe in him. He’s a guy that can hopefully get those double figures in scoring each night, and have that ability to stretch the defense a bit as he was hitting some long range jumpers.
David West had his strong game of the season so far. He’s been slow out of the gates, but last night’s effort of 17 points and 13 rebounds is right where he should be. If West can keep at that pace, the Pacers will be fine and dandy. Throw in the three steals as well, and you have West doing his part on the defensive end as well.
How about Lance Stephenson? He’s a guy that I just think is going to breakout this season if he hadn’t already broke out SOMEWHAT last season. I think he’ll turn some heads, and last night with a couple of big shots, he was able to do that. He wasn’t shooting too hot for most of the game, but he hit some big three’s and got himself right back into things. He’s that guy that you might not get the exact game you expect, and that could be tough for teams to defend. If he keeps up the improvement, the Pacers are looking at another Most Improved Player award.
We can go to Paul George finally as he’s becoming that guy that you just look at the stats and you see oh look another 21 points and 6 rebounds and some steals. Just stat sheet filling is what I see when I look at George’s game now, and that’s awesome. That makes me believe how much of an improved player George is turning himself into as well. If you can “ho-hum” a 20 point effort, you’re doing something right. But it’s the way that George is able to play so well on the defensive end and the offensive end that makes him the player he’s becoming. It’s a pretty short list of guys that you can count on that much to be something on both ends.
Now, the Pacers are sitting at 5-0 for the first time since the ABA days, and that start ended with a championship? Can this hot start end the same way?