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Bulls lose to Indiana despite career night from Doug McDermott

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Bulls are dropped by Indiana, but Doug McDermott played his best game as a pro so all is not lost my friends.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off an emotional last-minute victory last night, the Bulls came out Friday night against the Indiana Pacers looking a bit hungover. By the time the Bulls finally snapped out of it, they found themselves in a predictably rugged, hard-fought basketball game. Bulls-Pacers always lives up to its old-school bully-ball billing, and tonight was no exception. Chicago wound up losing 98-84 to Indy, just not being able to muster up enough offense. And frankly, nights like tonight are going to happen a lot in March.

The first half was pretty uneventful and filled with plenty of grotesque acts of what I believe can technically be classified as offense. The one major exception, though, was Doug freaking McDermott blowing up out of nowhere. Now, when I say blow up, I mean he had scored 12 points by halftime and finished with a career-high 16 points (on 17 shots!!!). First and foremost, credit Tom Thibodeau for giving the rook continued opportunity to figure things out, but you've also gotta credit Doug for coming out and playing hungry as hell. Seriously, the Doug McDermott we saw tonight looked as pissed off and aggressive as I've ever seen him play. He was going right at the rim with conviction and finished a few layups quite nicely while also knocking down a couple of jumpers.

Aside from Doug, though, the first half was an abomination. The second half didn't really go much better, either. The start of the fourth quarter was a flop-fest between both teams, which resulted in the officials teetering on losing control of the game. It was one whistle after another and the game became borderline unwatchable, unless you're one of those people who enjoys watching a pseudo-wrestling match disguised as a basketball game.

Sometimes when I think we've had it bad at various points this season in Chicago, I imagine what it must've been like as a Pacer fan watching this Pacer team for 60-some-odd games. Like, that's gotta be unbearable man. When Solomon Hill put on a brief momentary display of actual competent basketball in the third quarter, it felt like the Pacer fans on-hand were almost in disbelief. If there's anyone who can relate to losing a star player like Indiana has with Paul George -- thus losing your entire season in the process -- it's Chicago. So I'm not raging on them, but more or less I'm saying I know what it's like to watch so much bad basketball that when some good appears it's somewhat startling.

The Bulls are on a four-game-in-five-night stretch right now, and last night's win over Oklahoma City certainly started things on the right foot, but tonight had trap game written all over it. To Indy's credit, they're always a tough team to play no matter what because they've built a respectable culture thanks to a real good head coach. In many ways, though, tonight and last night sum up what we saw all last season from the Bulls. One night, they'd pull a win out of their ass in a game they had no business being in. The next, they'd fall flat on their faces in a very winnable game.

Again, the good news is that McDermott -- who has been the butt of many a joke this week here at BaB -- looked really good. By far his best game as a pro. So that's definitely encouraging. And aside from that, Pau Gasol recorded his league leading 41st double-double. Joakim Noah finished with double-digit assists which still always feels like a novelty for some reason. That's about it on the positive news front, though.

The bad news is that Nikola Mirotic crashed back down to earth tonight in a major way. His shot has been fairly inconsistent even during this stretch of awesome basketball he's been playing. But the thing about Niko is that he still works incredibly hard every minute he's on the floor -- well, when he's not too busy complaining about calls -- so it's never a lack of effort from him.

Along with Mirotic's struggles, Tony Snell, Kirk Hinrich and E'Twaun Moore all did nothing particularly special, and the Bulls are generally speaking going to need one of those three to step up over the next month or so to win games. All three with the minor exception being Snell are in roles they aren't sufficiently suited for, and that's going to produce some tough sledding moments like tonight was.

All in all, there's no shame in this loss. I certainly don't feel like the Bulls let me down because I don't really have a heightened sense of expectations to this point. The games that'll surprise me are the ones where I'm sure they won't win and do, not the opposite. And also, Indiana's been playing some good basketball leading up to tonight. They'd come in winners of nine of their last eleven. So yeah, no shame. Doug McDermott set a career-high in points, and that's all that matters, yo.