– We have never seen the stadium this electrified before a game this season in Conseco Fieldhouse. People could still fill a good amount of the seats in here, but this game is a step in the right direction for the Pacers organization.
– We cannot emphasize enough the incredible amount of concentration the Bulls displayed in the locker room and during warmups. Every player in the locker room was either watching film of the Pacers or getting stretched out to go shoot. Most players had a pair of stylish Beats By Dre headphones in, canceling out any outside noise and focusing strictly on the task at hand. These guys are NOT just here for the ride.
– Danny Granger addresses the crowd about Martin Luther King Jr. right before tip off.
– Roy Hibbert hit an early jumper to get the Pacers started and then got the hockey assist on a Mike Dunleavy trey from the right side. The center looks confident with the ball, is taking his time, and is making the correct read.
– Two quick, meaningless fouls in the first two minutes for Keith Bogans as Bulls fans sit here thinking, “Where is Ben Gordon when we need him?” Kidding, kidding…but seriously, the Bulls still have time to make a deal before the trade deadline.
– Very smart play by Ronnie Brewer (7 points, 5 boards, 5 assists). Instead of forcing up a bad shot over Roy Hibbert, Brewer dribbled back out to the three-point line to set up the offense and proceeded to use a nice hesitation dribble and pump-fake to get around the big man.
– Pacers clicking early on in this one—15 points in the first 6+ but the way they are moving the ball from side to side and penetrating into the gaps, especially the normally perimeter-bound Danny Granger (22 points, 6 boards), of Chicago’s defense has been desirable.
– Derrick Rose (29 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists) with his first acrobatic lay-in of the evening, but certainly not his last.
– After a brief timeout, Rose with a 12-footer in the lane off the bounce in Hibbert’s grill. Next time down he penetrated the lane on the left side and kicked the ball out to Ronnie Brewer, who swung to Luol Deng (17 points, 5 helpers) for three at the top of the key. Could have pulled up in the paint but made the even smarter play this time and trusted his teammates.
– Brewer has done all the little things for the Bulls—rebounding, making great ball reversals, and playing tough defense—in his extended minutes, thanks to Bogans.
– On cue, Brewer plays tough off the ball defense that leads to a steal when Jeff Foster tries to force a pass.
– Brandon Rush slithers along the baseline past three defenders. Thought he’d have to pass his way out of it but the D froze up. 28-24 at the end of one.
– After the ref called a loose ball foul on Taj Gibson for pushing off on Mike Dunleavy, Luol Deng decided to take matters into his own hands and gets T’d up for his words with the referee.
– Even though the ball got stripped out of bounds, Paul George ran the floor beautifully and filled his lane exactly as he was supposed to. If he doesn’t do that, then he doesn’t receive the ball.
– CJ Watson gave the Bulls six excellent bench minutes in relief of Mr. Rose to start the period.
– George with his first bucket of the game on a tough pull-up from the top of the key.
– The way Kurt Thomas (4 points, 18 rebounds) boxed out–and rebounded–in the first half was incredible. An extremely wide, below the rim player, it’s impressive to watch the 38-year-old move his opponent out of the way with relative ease on both ends. Not only does he create space for himself to get rebounds, but moving players out of the way (especially on the offensive end) provides more space for his teammates to crash the boards and retrieve errant shots. It really makes you wonder about how good this team could be like on the glass if they can stay healthy when Joakim Noah returns. After the game, Thomas would say “I just try to be competitive, just try to keep working out there. I try to keep my body on the opponents body and be relentless nonstop.”