The Bulls entered Monday’s game with a 10-game losing streak in Indiana dating back to 2016. While it wasn’t pretty, the streak mercifully came to an end thanks to a 120-112 overtime victory over the Pacers in Wendell Carter Jr.’s return to the lineup.
Despite taking an 11-point lead early in the fourth quarter, it felt like that losing streak was actually going to continue when the Pacers came storming back to take the lead heading into crunch time. But after a quiet and frustrating (he wasn’t pleased with the officials all night and wound up getting a late T) first three quarters, Zach LaVine went into attack mode, taking over down the stretch with 12 of his game-high 30 points coming in the fourth quarter. LaVine’s biggest shot came with a high degree of difficulty down two points in the final minute of regulation:
Zach LaVine's got the CLUTCH gene.@NBCSChicago | #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/iZw2BrPGey— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 16, 2021
LaVine split a pair of free throws after Domantas Sabonis botched yet another chip shot (he shot 6-of-13 in the restricted area and 7-of-17 in the paint), giving the Pacers a chance to tie or take the lead. Malcolm Brogdon scored off a broken play, which then set up LaVine with a chance to win it.
While LaVine unfortunately missed on a decent mid-range look, the Bulls then crushed the Pacers in overtime. As was a theme all game, the #RoadDawg Bulls used extra efforts to rack up second chance points, with two Thaddeus Young offensive rebounds leading to five points in the first couple of minutes of the extra period, including a tough Denzel Valentine 3-pointer. Chicago racked up 13 offensive boards, 25 second chance points and 60 total rebounds to dominate the glass. The Bulls took 10 more shots than the Pacers despite both teams turning the ball over 19 times.
LaVine led seven Bulls in double figures. Carter nearly notched a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds in his early return from a quad injury. Carter had some issues with foul trouble and turnovers, but he was aggressive in his 21 minutes and played physical with Sabonis, who put up a monster stat line but was honestly awful for a guy who had 25 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four blocks. He missed all those bunnies (the Pacers were 20-of-38 in the restricted area as a team) and turned the ball over eight times, including a number of offensive fouls. The Bulls outscored the Pacers by 18 points in Sabonis’ 43 minutes.
The veteran trio of Young, Garrett Temple and Tomas Satoransky was huge, with Temple reaching double figures for the third straight game after his brutal start to the month. Temple hit a clutch 3-pointer off some nice ball movement late in the fourth quarter and then scored two big buckets in overtime to finish with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting and a game-best plus-19. Young stuffed the stat sheet yet again with 13 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in 30 minutes off the bench, while Satoransky had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds in 21 minutes.
This veteran trio also played a key role during a 15-3 run to close the third quarter, which came right after the Bulls had coughed up an 11-point advantage thanks in part to some awful Luke Kornet minutes. Kornet missed all five of his 3-point attempts and was crushed on defense in his nine minutes overall for the game (he was bad in both stints and played over Daniel Gafford), and I have no idea why he’s on this team. But I digress.
Coby White was also on the court during that third-quarter run, and he rebounded nicely from an awful first half to have a relatively strong game. White had four points, three assists and three turnovers (two really bad ones early in the game thanks to ball pressure from T.J. McConnell) in the opening half, but he finished the game with 19 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He didn’t turn the ball over in the second half/OT and was a plus-16. The young guard even had a few nice finishes over Myles Turner.
The Bulls did have an injury scare with Patrick Williams, but he returned to the game after he went to the locker room. While the rookie had a really rough night outside of one nice sequence where he blocked a shot and splashed a corner 3 over Turner, it’s obviously good that he seemingly avoided an injury.
I wouldn’t say the Bulls or Pacers played particularly well in this game, and Chicago certainly benefited from all of Indiana’s missed layups, missed 3-pointers (9-of-33 without former Bull Doug McDermott in the lineup) and turnovers, plus a thin bench. Still, pulling out an overtime win against a likely playoff team, as mediocre as the Pacers are right now (14-14), has to feel good after all the close losses.
The Bulls are now 11-15 and will face the Hornets on Wednesday.