This was one the Indiana Pacers needed to win. Losing to the Chicago Bulls would be unacceptable.
Not if they wanted to take a significant step in winning the Central Division.
That meant beating the Bulls so that they would have the edge in head-to-head match ups this season, in case the two teams finish the season with the same record.
The Bulls made the Pacers work for every point on offense and they had them scrambling on defense at times on the other end of the court.
But when the final horn sounded, the Pacers walked off the court with 97-92 victory in front of a neutral crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday.
“They say to be the best you have to beat the best,” Pacers guard George Hill said. “Today we took that as a challenge to go out and play hard.”
Hill blew a chance to put the game away when he missed two free throws with 13.3 seconds left.
The Bulls got the rebound and called timeout to advance the ball into the front court. Marco Belinelli missed a 3-pointer with 7.0 seconds left, but the ball went out of bounds off a Pacer giving Chicago another chance. Tyler Hansbrough poked the ball away from Vladimir Radmanovic. Pacers power forward David West was immediately fouled and he made both free throws to seal the game for them.
The Pacers have a four-game lead – five games with the tiebreaker – over the Bulls in the division.
West led all scorers with 31 points. Hill added 21 points.
“Knowing it’s a long season, we still have 20-plus game left,” Hill said. “Anything can happen. We know it’s a good team over there and they’re going to make a push to try to take over the division. We have to maintain.”
You’re fooling yourself if you think the Bulls are going to put the division on a platter and bring it down to the Pacers on I-65.
That’s not Chicago’s style.
The Pacers will have to keep working and not get complacent because the Bulls will continue to breathe down their necks until the season ends.
Sunday was a prime example of that.
The Bulls entered the fieldhouse a wounded, depleted team that didn’t arrive in Indianapolis until almost noon on Sunday because of airplane problems.
Kirk Hinrich. Richard Hamilton. Taj Gibson. And oh yeah, former league MVP Derrick Rose were all out of the lineup for Chicago.
“Injuries mean nothing to this team, recent struggles mean nothing to this team,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “In fact, recent struggles raise my antennas even more because they have a figure-it-out mentality with their coaching staff and all of the struggles. We know this is a team that overcomes the odds, wins no matter who is in uniform. They’re not a team that fatigues. They’re so mentally tough.”
The Pacers led by as many as 13 points.
But Tom Thibodeau – as he’s done the past two seasons when dealing with all their injuries – didn’t let his team fold.
The Bulls kept clawing away at the Pacers’ lead with journeymen players like Vladimir Radmanovic and Nazr Mohammed on the court for stretches to go with All Stars Luol Deng and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls came back and tied the score twice in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers found away to respond and keep the Bulls at distance each time it looked like they were going to lose the lead.
A Hill basket. A Roy Hibbert hook and tip in. West with free throws.
“(Chicago is) always going to play extremely hard,” Hibbert said. “We know they’re going to keep playing hard until the end, but we have closers out there who can finish games.”
George Hill was born on May 4th, 1986 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Hill_(basketball)
May 4th, 1986
5 + 4 +1+9+8+6 = 33 = his life lesson = Fierce. Going into the lion’s den. Putting on a good show.
May 4th, 1986
1+9+8+6 = 24 = Lean. fit and trim.
4 +1+9+8+6 = 28 = his “secret” number = Muscular.
May 4th, 1986
5 + 4 +2+0+1+2 = 14 = his personal year (from May 4th, 2012 to May 3rd, 2013) = Having appeal.
14 year + 4 (April) = 18 = his personal month (from April 4th, 2013 to May 3rd, 2013) = Surreal. Driving Pacers fans crazy.
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
756975 8933 62
his path of destiny = 62 = Getting open. Blocking shots. Restricted by ankle troubles.
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