It's been a tale of home and away for the Indiana Pacers, who earned their third-straight home victory, 111-101, against the Chicago Bulls Monday night.
The Pacers lost three-straight road games—at Portland, Utah and Denver—before starting this impressive home streak, which also included a 13-point drubbing of the Miami Heat.
Indiana jumped all over Chicago out of the gate, opening the game on a 13-2 run. But the Bulls fought back admirably, and by the end of the first, actually held a 29-28 lead.
But Indiana outscored the Bulls by seven in the second quarter and five in the third, taking a double-digit lead into the fourth. From there, the Bulls fought back to make it closer than the final score indicated, but not close enough.
After a Marco Belinelli jump shot, Chicago found itself down just four with under two minutes remaining. But a dagger three from first-time All-Star Paul George extended the lead back to seven, and from there, things were elementary.
David West led all scorers with 29; Paul George chipped in with 21 points, 11 rebounds and five assists and George Hill added 22 points with six dimes.
Marco Belinelli led Chicago with 24 points (and little else); Nate Robinson had 19 points and five assists; Luol Deng slogged to 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting and Taj Gibson had a modest double-double (10 points, 11 rebounds) starting in place of Joakim Noah.
The Pacers' win, combined with Chicago's loss, moves both teams into a tie with one another atop the Central Division. Both teams are now 29-19, and tied for the Eastern Conference's third seed.
Player of the Game: David West (IND)
Cases could be made for every other Pacers starter (sans the once-again-pitiful Roy Hibbert), but West gets the nod after a wildly complete performance.
Here's his full box score:
That West needed only 18 shots to get to 29 points, for a power forward, is awfully impressive. The eight boards aren't half bad either, as are the four assists and three blocks.
Hibbert's regression at center this year has been masked by Paul George's improvement on the wing. It's also been contrasted beautifully by West's consistency on the high block.
So long as he keeps that up, this team is still a contender out East.
What's Next For the Bulls?
Chicago gets some time off before playing games No. 5 and 6 of this road trip, against Denver and Utah, on Thursday and Friday.
What's Next For the Pacers?
Indiana's in a good place right now. After struggling so much on the road, six of their next seven games will be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. That stretch starts on Tuesday against Atlanta.
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