This one was not for the faint of heart. Indiana knocked Chicago to the canvas and the Bulls never got up in a 109-77 loss Monday.
The Bulls (12-6) looked every bit the team playing the second night of a back-to-back with three of its top-seven players--Alex Caruso, Nikola Vucevic and Patrick Williams--in street clothes.
Chicago shot an ice-cold 36.5% from the field and 21.4% from behind the arc. They mustered just seven fast-break points, five points off 11 Pacers turnovers, and 15 free-throw attempts.
Without the requisite size to throw at the 6-foot-11 twin towers Domantas Sabonis (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Myles Turner (12 points, 10 rebounds), the Bulls were bullied on the glass 59-38.
When Billy Donovan burned his first timeout four minutes into the game, the Bulls were already down 15-5 and en route to their sixth consecutive loss to the Pacers at the United Center.
They cut the deficit to single digits three times in the second quarter but couldn’t get stops on defense. The Pacers also got to the charity stripe for 10 of their 18 free throws. By the time Malcolm Brogdon beat the buzzer to send Indiana into the half with a 67-46 advantage, all five Pacers starters were in double figures.
Zach LaVine (17 points) and DeMar DeRozan (18 points), who combined to score 20 points in the second quarter, put up just six collective points in the third. And the rest of their teammates could only scrape together nine as the deficit increased to as large as 31 points.
Neither LaVine nor DeRozan got off the bench in the fourth quarter. Coby White (4 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists), who got the nod in place of the injured Caruso, was the only starter to play in the period.
He and Alize Johnson subbed out for Devon Dotson and Marko Simonovic with 6:44 left in the game. The Bulls were down 102-68 at that point.
Simonovic grabbed a rebound and hit a free throw but missed an above-the-break stepback three-pointer. It was his only shot attempt. Dotson scored two points on a fastbreak layup and snagged three rebounds. Dotson also had a sure-layup erased by Simonovic’s basket interference.
The loss dropped the Bulls out of a first-place tie with Brooklyn atop the Eastern Conference standings.
What's On Tap Next?
The Bulls hit the road once again, but only for a two-game trip this time. Before visiting the Orlando Magic on Friday, Chicago has a date with the stalling Houston Rockets (1-16) on Wednesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 PM CST and the game will air on NBC Sports Chicago.
Make sure to check out the Bulls On Tap podcast for further postgame reaction as well as Chicago basketball analysis and commentary all season.