The Indiana Pacers visited United Center on Monday night, and the Chicago Bulls used home court to avenge their loss in Indy on Friday. Joakim Noah and Taj Gibson played stellar games once again, and the Bulls scrapped their way to the 89-77 win as the teams split the season series.
Gibson finished with 23 points to lead all scorers. Noah notched 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks. Kirk Hinrich scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
Paul George scored 21 points, but he missed 14 of his 22 shots. George Hill finished with 17, and the Pacers shot just 37 percent.
The Pacers grabbed a 34-33 halftime lead on a late three-pointer from Hill. Chicago followed up that sluggish first 24 minutes with better shooting and scored just two fewer points in the third quarter than in the entire first half.
With the Brooklyn Nets losing to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, the Bulls move two games ahead of them in fourth place. They pick up a half-game on the idle Toronto Raptors and both team sit 11 games back on first. Chicago hosts the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday.
The Pacers have been struggling lately with seven losses in their last 12 games. Fortunately, that is the same record as the Miami Heat have in their last 12, and the defending champions are two games back in second place after beating Portland on Monday.
Indiana hosts a barn-burner against LeBron James and the Heat on Wednesday.