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Bulls suffer 1st home loss


PhilBoxing.com


WITH an immaculate 8-0 record entering Wednesday night's game at the United Center in wintry Chicago, the Bulls stood tall and mighty as the only undefeated home team left in this abbreviated season.

But after a physical, action-packed 48 minutes of play, Derrick Rose and company joined the ranks of 29 other NBA teams who have been vanquished in front of their home crowd. They fell to the gritty Indiana Pacers, 95-90.

The Pacers got clobbered in Orlando the night before, 102-83, and when they fell behind 56-46 early in the third quarter, they looked like easy prey for a rampaging Bulls team that was gaining momentum and poised to break the game wide open.

But the Pacers took Chicago's best shot, nibbled at the Bulls lead slowly but surely, before seizing a precarious 75-74 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Indiana kept that slim lead until the final horn, staving off repeated rallies by the Bulls, who got 24 points and 3 assists from league MVP Rose.

Danny Granger paced Indiana with 22 points, including a short jumper that pushed the Pacers 89-82 ahead with just 4:10 left to play. The Pacers also got a huge night from their 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert, who owned the paint with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

Indiana didn't exactly light up the United Center with their shooting ---- 38 of 80 field goals (47.5 percent) 5-of-10 treys (50 percent) and an abysmal 14 of 21 free throws (66.7 percent).

But the Bulls couldn't do any better, either. They shot a mediocre 36-of-90 from the field (40 percent), 3-of-13 from 3-point range (23.1 percent), and 15-of-21 free throws (71.4 percent).

"We started sluggishly. We weren't sharp. In this league, you get what you deserve. You have to be ready from the start....I didn't think we were as aggressive as we needed to be," a disappointed Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters at the post-game press conference.

Rip Hamilton had 17 points for the Bulls, but he shot just 6 of 20 from the field. Carlos Boozer finished with 11 but the hulking 6-foot-9 power forward missed 9 of 14 field goals. Ronnie Brewer, who took over the injured Luol Deng (sore wrist), played extremely well with 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

The Pacers moved up in the standings with a 12-5 won-lost record, while Bulls fell to 16-4 and lost the league's best record to the 15-3 Oklahoma City Thunder.

MIAMI EKES PAST DETROIT. The star-studded Heat, deemed by many as the team to beat in the tough East, survived a scare and squeaked by the 4-15 Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills on Wednesday night.

The Heat played without All-Star Dwyane Wade, who missed his fourth consecutive game and 9th overall with a sore ankle. No problem. They still had LeBron James. And Chris Bosh.

King James, the ex-Cav who took his talents to South Beach, filled the stats sheet with 32 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists while Bosh was equally spectacular with 27 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Mario Chalmers added 16 points and 4 assists while Mike Miller drilled 10.

Detroit, which missed the services of Ben Gordon (sore left shoulder) and Tayshaun Prince (family matter), got 28 points from Austin Daye and 20 from Greg Monroe.

After a hot and cold start, the Heat are 13-5 in the standings, a mere half a game ahead of the Orlando Magic but just a nose behind the Bulls for the best record in the East. (HDS)


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Homer D. Sayson.


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