The Bulls are still getting back to form, and the Pacers are quite good, so this probably wasn't going to be the 'breakthrough game' Derrick Rose keeps talking about. Friday will likely provide the better chance, with a league-worst team from Utah coming to the United Center.
Though it was far from a 'breakout', Rose did play better on Wednesday. The first 3 minutes were actually very encouraging, he hit his first 3 shots including a mid-range pull-up and a three. Then the rest of the night...3-11 (0-4 from three) with 4 turnovers and a lot of either passing to teammates who'd brick, or getting swallowed up inside by Roy Hibbert and the fantastic Pacers defense. Hibbert has clearly gotten better on the defensive end by being less prone to mistakes and fouls, and the simple fact that he played 37 minutes while Noah had 5 fouls in only 27 minutes made a difference.
3 point shooting was also...well, a bit better. 5-15! Led by Kirk Hinrich who may have had the best performance on the team last night (not a good sign) who was a scintillating 2 of 2. Hinrich was once again used by Thibs alongside Rose in a late lineup. In theory it makes sense to add more ballhandling and shooting, but the end result was -16 in 5:11. It's been a bad combination all season, in 34 minutes they have an offensive rating of 80.5. and a defensive rating of 118.2. And for what you think would be a more ball-secure lineup, the combo results in a naerly 27% turnover ratio. Sadly last night's poor work was mostly Rose's doing as he was being defended by Paul George.
In the final frame, the Bulls shot an abysmal 35.3% (6 for 17 on field goal attempts). Their cold shooting in the fourth was actually right in line with the 35.6% they shot for the full game. So if the shooting was consistently terrible throughout the game, then why did the Bulls get blown out in the fourth, where they had hung close to the Pacers in the previous three quarters? Well, for a number of reasons.
Chicago was dominated on the glass, as they allowed the Pacers to grab 7 offensive rebounds on their 12 missed shots for an OReb percentage of 58.3% (!). For their part, the Bulls were only able to grab 1 offensive board, despite missing 11 shots, so the Bulls had a roughly 9.1% OREB%, which is, obviously, just a huge discrepancy.
On top of the Bulls’ inability to grab rebounds in the fourth, they gave up a ton of open looks leading to the Pacers shooting 11 of 23 (47.8%) from the field. The Pacers also were more aggressive going to the basket, as they got to the line 3 times as frequently as the Bulls, on their way to 12 FTA compared with the Bulls 4.
From the Pacers side, the 4th quarter was fueled by role players Lance Stephenson, Luis Scola, and Donald Sloan. It was a display of the improved depth the Pacers emphasized on this past offseason, as was old friend (I still like him) CJ Watson filling in for the injured George Hill and putting in 11 points and 4 assists (and zero turnovers) in 22 minutes.
The Bulls bench actually was not the problem as much as their starters getting manhandled. Hinrich played well, as did Taj Gibson (and Gibson should be playing more), and the bench units are what kept them in the game in the middles of both halves. But with the Bulls top-line players, especially Luol Deng, ALL struggling (Boozer was the lone holdout before last night) those bench guys won't matter as much in terms of getting a win soon.