(Photo credit: Brian Spurlock – USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bulls make fourth-quarter comeback, never lead in loss to Indiana Pacers
Just four days after defeating them at home, the Bulls lost to the Pacers, 111-101. While the end result suggests the game wasn’t a close one, it was a close game, but only for the last quarter.
The majority of the game featured a Bulls team trying to work its way back to making the early evening game a competitive one.
In classic Bulls fashion, the Bulls opened the game by committing two turnovers less than two minutes into the game. Combine that with their inefficient offense, and they allowed the Pacers to open the game on a 7-0 run. It wasn’t until the 10:26 mark of the first quarter that Chicago got on the board: Taj Gibson made a layup. That, however, didn’t help the Bulls’ offense get going.
Less than a minute after Chicago got its first points of the night, Glenn Robinson III made a 3-pointer that Indiana a 12-4 lead with 9:37 left in the first. At this point, head coach Fred Hoiberg had enough and called a timeout.
Toward the end of the quarter that lineup combined for 10 points: First, McDermott drained a 3-pointer, which got him going a bit. Then Felicio fed Butler for a dunk out in the open court. McDermott followed by burying a right-wing jumper and later assisted Carter-Williams’ made 3-pointer.
This cut what was once a 14-point deficit down to six points, 28-22. What really hurt the Bulls and forced them to have to work up from behind, though, were their seven first-quarter turnovers — which led to 11 points for the Pacers. They also had no free throw attempts, which further proved how bad and unaggressive their offense was.
Despite the late quarter run, the Bulls, as a whole, had no momentum heading into the second quarter. McDermott had some, making a Dwyane Wade-assisted 3-pointer early in the second that cut the deficit to five. But nothing more.
Later near the heart of the second quarter, the Pacers had a scoring drought, and the Bulls took advantage. All it took to bring the point differential to four points was a Wade floater and a Butler 3-point play. But then Chicago had it’s own scoring drought, diminishing the progress it had just made.
Come halftime, the Bulls broke their scoring drought but couldn’t do enough to prevent the Pacers’ double-digit halftime lead, 62-50.
To open the third quarter, Carter-Williams took Rajon Rondo‘s spot in the lineup, and Rondo never saw time in the second half. Compared to the first quarter, having Carter-Williams run the offense was an improvement, as there was more ball movement. Carter-Williams, himself, even scored six points in the quarter, and the Bulls, as a whole, appeared to be giving more effort on both ends of the floor.
The Pacers, however, wouldn’t budge and, for the most part, maintained their double-digit lead, but that’s not to say they never would.
Much like they did toward the end of the first quarter, Butler and Chicago’s bench found success in the fourth quarter — enough that the game would become tied at 95, making it a tie game for the first time since tip-off.
Felicio and Mirotic, in particular, were big in the Bulls’ comeback: Felicio was active on the board, and Mirotic knocked down shots after struggling earlier.
Chicago never made it past a tie game, though. After Carter-Williams tied the game with a free throw, Indiana eventually took its lead back with an 18-foot jumper from Paul George.
Butler tied the game back up at 97 with a driving layup, but the Pacers took off from there. Meanwhile, the Bulls failed to stretch out their comeback and close out the game. In the final five minutes of the game, Chicago was outscored 14-6.
Butler led the Bulls with 25 points on 8-for-17 from the field and 9-of-11 on free throws. He also added six rebounds, three assists and two steals, but tied a game-high for turnovers at four. Wade added 20 points of his own on 8-for-18 shooting, and Felicio came off the bench to post a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Bulls are now 16-17 and will end 2016 with a 6 p.m. central game at home Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.