Luol Deng Leads Bulls to Pacers Revenge and Eastern Lead

Derrick Rose said he didn’t forget. The Chicago Bulls took their January loss to Indiana very seriously, especially the Pacers’ post game celebrations. No surprise then in how the Bulls played and dominated, especially in the third quarter, with Luol Deng scoring 20 points in their 92-72 win over the Indiana Pacers.

Derrick Rose had a big night against the Philadelphia 76ers, and the energy levels, his and of his teammates, were awfully low throughout the first half. Rose, Boozer and Deng combined for a terrible 3-21 from the field in the first half. Rose finished with 13 points and nine assists. Boozer finished with only 4 points, spending only 22 minutes on the floor.

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As it usually goes with the good teams, raising the level of play on defense changed the course of the game. The Pacers scored only 13 points in the third quarter, only 29 in the second half. Chicago destroyed them on the boards, out-rebounding the Pacers 60-32. Roy Hibbert playing only 25 minutes because of foul trouble was a big reason. Joakim Noah finished with 17 rebounds. The Pacers field goal shooting? 34.2%.

A rivalry? A new one? Looks like it. A lot of anomosity between these two teams, which started in last year’s first round playoff series. The Pacers did bow down after 5 games, but were a much tougher opponent for the Bulls than anyone expected. Derrick Rose – Last time we played them, they beat us here. Now we just have to deal with them, where they put up a fight every time we play them.

The Bulls still have another game against the Pacers, their Central division rivals, in Indiana. The rest of the way seems decent, with 16 of their remaining 26 games to be played at home, where they are 15-2 this season.

Both teams entered the game with a six game winning streak. The Pacers were trying to get their first seven game streak for eight years. The Bulls, now at 32-8, have a 2.5 game lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference and also the best record in the league, with the Thunder at 30-8.

Around the League

The Oklahoma City Thunder continued their dominance of the Dallas Mavericks, despite a bad shooting night from their big three. Durant, Westbrook and Harden combined for 16-49 from the field in their 95-91 win over the NBA champions, sending Jason Kidd to complain about the referees.

The Utah Jazz, won of the worst road teams in the league, beat the Cleveland Cavaliers (sixth straight loss) 109-100 behind Al Jefferson and his 25 points, 13 rebounds. Another bad road team, the Golden State Warriors, enjoyed played the Washington Wizards, beating John Wall’s team 120-100 with Monta Ellis leading the scoring with 25 points.

More road wins? The Orlando Magic beat the Toronto Raptors 92-88 behind a huge night from Dwight Howard, finishing with 36 points and 13 rebounds. The Milwaukee Bucks got a big night from Brandon Jennings, scoring 33 points in their win over the Philadelphia 76ers, 97-93.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are finally above the .500 mark, as Kevin Love had a huge game with another impressive barrage from downtown to complement his rebounding. He finished with 39 points and 17 rebounds, beating the Clippers 95-94.

A huge night from Arron Afflalo, scoring 32 points for the Denver Nuggets, let them to a 119-116 overtime win over the Sacramento Kings. The Portland Trail Blazers ended their losing streak with a 86-74 win over the New Orleans Hornets, Nicolas Batum leading the team with 19 points.