Vučević leads Bulls in win over Pacers (Indianapolis, IN) – After earning a much-needed win against the Nets on Sunday, the Bulls have another important matchup tonight against the Pacers. Indiana is two games ahead of Chicago for the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference. This year, the 7th-10th seeds will all compete in a play-in tournament for a right to make the playoffs. A Bulls win will close the gap between the two teams and also increase their chances of earning the 6th seed and avoiding the play-in.
The Pacers will be without their best two players tonight, Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, due to injury. Brogdon and Sabonis average 40 points, 12 assists and 16 rebounds combined, so there will be plenty of production missing. Caris LeVert is the best candidate to be the Pacers top option tonight, as he comes into the game averaging 17 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists.
Vučević’s 1st half double-double sets the tone
LeVert got off to a great start, scoring or assisting on 14 of the Pacers first 18 points. His early contributions gave Indiana an 18-16 lead with 4.5 minutes left in the 1st. This was a competitive opening quarter, as there were 4 ties and 8 lead changes. Chicago led 30-28 going into the 2nd quarter, behind 8 assists on their 10 field goals.
Indiana tied the game at 30 to begin the 2nd, but the Bulls countered with a 9-0 run. Coby White’s three pointer put Chicago up 39-30, with 9.5 minutes left in the quarter. Nikola Vučevic later scored on the team’s 6th offensive rebound, to give the Bulls their largest lead at 45-33. The Pacers went on a 7-0 run after Vučević’s tip-in, to make it 45-40 with 6 minutes left in the half. Chicago closed the half out with a 17-9 stretch, to lead 62-49 going into the 2nd half.
Chicago dominated the glass in the 1st half, out-rebounding the Pacers 36-17. The Bulls rebounding advantage led to 14 second-chance points as well, compared to none for Indiana. Vučevic led the Bulls, as he had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Zach LaVine and Thaddeus Young also added 12 and 10 points respectively. LeVert led the Pacers with 11 points and 3 assists, with Myles Turner adding 10 points.
Bulls extend their lead to 23 in the 3rd
The Bulls extended their lead to 69-49 to begin the 3rd, but the Pacers fought to stay in the game. Indiana went on a 12-4 run to reduce the Chicago lead to 73-61, with 7 minutes left in the quarter. The Bulls outscored the Pacers 24-13 from that point forward, to lead 97-74 going into the 4th. Vučević played a big part in the team pulling away, with 14 points in the quarter.
Chicago closes out Indiana
The Pacers came out aggressive in the 4th, scoring the first 10 points of the quarter. Indiana cut the Chicago lead down to 97-84, with 10 minutes left in the game. Patrick Williams and Vučević later scored on consecutive possessions, which gave the Bulls a 107-91 advantage with 5 minutes remaining. Chicago maintained their lead, winning the game 113-97.
The Bulls continued their dominant rebounding in the 2nd half, as they ended the game with 67 rebounds compared to Indiana’s 40. Six players also scored in double figures, led by Vučević’s 32 points and 17 rebounds.
LeVert led the Pacers with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Indiana (22-27) will play the Timberwolves (13-38) tomorrow night at 6pm CT.
Chicago (21-28) will face the Raptors (20-31) on Thursday night on 6:30pm CT.