Against their division rivals the Indiana Pacers, the Chicago Bulls got some big breaks late in the game to escape with a 90-85 win last night. The win helped Chicago jump back into 7th in the Eastern Conference standings while dropping the Pacers to 9th. It was a huge victory for the Bulls who snapped a three game losing streak in the process while giving themselves some momentum heading into their game against Brooklyn.
This game could also be dubbed as the “Nikola Mirotic revenge game”. After being benched a few weeks ago, Mirotic responded with one of his best games of the season against the Pacers. He scored a season high 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting from the field with 9 of those attempts being from three-point range. His ability to hit shots with a hand in his face was on full display along with his ability to put the ball on the floor and hit a pull-up when necessary. Along with grabbing seven rebounds, Mirotic made some huge plays late in the game on both ends of the court to help seal the victory for Chicago.
He also made a big play defensively late in the game, something you don’t see very often from Mirotic. With Indiana scrambling to find the game tying three the ball found itself in the hands of Aaron Brooks, who had a solid night against his former team. Being a good three-point shooter, the fact that Brooks had the ball in his hands was a problem for Chicago and with Mirotic switched onto him, optimism wasn’t high that he could stay in front of the small point guard. But that’s exactly what he did, not falling for the crossover. Brooks was forced into making a cross court pass which was picked off by Wade for the game-sealing dunk.
It was a play that you don’t always expect from Mirotic and something you would like to see him do more consistently.
Ever since his benching in the back to back against Milwaukee, Mirotic has scored double digits points in his last four games and broke out against the Pacers.
Return of MCW
Michael Carter-Williams made his return against Indiana and showed some flashes of what he could bring to Chicago. In his first game since Halloween, he played 19 minutes and missed all five of his field goal attempts. He ended up with 1 point and 5 rebounds for his efforts.
MCW was decent defensively, getting in the grill of his opponents and sticking with them on drives. He also showed a willingness to move the ball around and be active offensively although his shot looks really bad at the moment.
Carter-Williams won’t be starting for the Bulls anytime soon but he can certainly be a good point guard for them off the bench although you have to be careful who you play him with.
Rebounding and Free Throw battle won again
Chalk this up as another victory for Chicago on the glass. Robin Lopez was the only Bull to have double-digit rebounding totals, but Chicago had a 47-41 win rebounding wise, highlighted by a Offensive Rebound percentage at 34%. No Pacer had higher than 9 rebounds as Myles Turner led the way with 8 boards.
The Bulls also far outscored the Pacers at the line, going 20-28 vs. Indiana’s 8-10. It was enough for Paul George to raise the question of a conspiracy against his team after the game.