Bulls-Pacers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 26, 2012
The Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers have finished at the top of the Central Division in each of the past two seasons, largely due to their defensive prowess. Defense continues to be both teams' calling card this year, though one is currently trying to rebound from back-to-back disappointments. Chicago will travel to Indianapolis looking to avoid equaling a season-high three-game skid in a matchup with the surging Pacers. Both Indiana and Chicago own two of the league's top scoring defenses at 89.9 and 91.0, respectively. But the Bulls' defense hasn't looked the part of late. Chicago (15-12) has given up 212 points over its past two games, its highest two-game total of the season. The Bulls have let their last two opponents shoot a combined 52.8 percent from the floor - a number in stark contrast to their 43.1 season average. The latest defensive meltdown was a 120-97 loss to Houston on Christmas night. It was Chicago's largest margin of defeat of the season and its most points allowed. Making the loss even more bitter was the performance of Omer Asik, who tallied 20 points and 18 rebounds against his former team. Chicago didn't match the Rockets' three-year, $25 million offer sheet for Asik in the offseason. Each Houston starter scored in double figures while Chicago's starting five combined to shoot 39.1 percent from the field. Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 27 points off the bench on 9-of-16 shooting. "If you are not right and don't have an edge, you are not going to win without the right amount of intensity," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They completely outplayed us from the start." A road game against a conference foe might provide a fix for the Bulls, as they're 6-1 in such games. "In this league things change," forward Taj Gibson told the team's website. "It's no time to panic ... we just have to get ready for the next game, adjust, work on the fundamentals and get back to what we've been doing. We can't feel sorry for ourselves." The Pacers (16-12) are finding success without reigning leading scorer Danny Granger. Despite being without the team-leading 21.6 ppg that Granger has averaged since 2007-08, Indiana has won three in a row and seven of eight. In his absence, they've primarily relied on three players - David West (17.4 ppg), Paul George (16.3) and George Hill (15.0). Most recently it was West, who scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half of an 81-75 win against New Orleans on Saturday. The Pacers trailed by 22 at one point and owed the comeback in large part to their defense. They won the third quarter 24-7 while holding New Orleans to 3 of 17 from the field. Indiana's 40.8 percent field-goal defense is the best in the NBA. "When you defend like we defend, you're definitely never out of the game," coach Frank Vogel said. "We're capable of having quarters like we did tonight where you're holding teams to seven points in the quarter. When you can do that, you can make up huge deficits." The Pacers notched an 80-76 road victory over the Bulls on Dec. 4 with George scoring 34. The teams combined for 37.3 percent shooting.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Josh McCown has looked better at times than RG3

Mike Trout does David Ortiz impersonation

Suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant set to help coach HS football

Tickets for ‘Monday Night Football’ game in Mexico sell out

Kevin Durant says he never told Russell Westbrook he was staying in OKC

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

God Shammgod hired by Mavericks as player development assistant

Soccer player terminates contract after being attacked by stray dogs

Todd Bowles confirms Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jets starting QB: ‘It’s his job’

Carmelo Anthony shocked Dwyane Wade left Miami for Chicago

Report: David Lee signs with the Spurs

Craig Sager to miss Olympics while undergoing bone marrow transplant

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

Josh Gordon thankful for support from Browns

Report: Seahawks DE Chris Clemons retiring

Denard Robinson blames falling asleep at stoplight for pond crash

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Hue Jackson: Browns will give Josh Gordon a fresh start

Diamondbacks nearing Daniel Hudson trade

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

What would George Costanza have traded to get Bonds and Griffey?

Gabby Douglas can make USA Gymnastics history at Olympics

Week 3 will determine the Big Ten's reputation this season

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker