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Bulls Thu Jan 26 2012

As The Bulls Turn: Pacers Outpace [sigh] Bulls at United Center

Thumbnail image for chicagobulls.pngMemory is a funny thing, maybe 16 wins in 19 tries had caused you, the affable Bulls fan, to forget that the Indiana Pacers are no cakewalk. And maybe the extended lockout let you forget another fact about the Pacers, namely, that Indiana is *GULLY* The Pacers after affording the Bulls (and their United Center partisans) a cushy 10-point lead --with your requisite "Resistance is futile at the United Center"-style-Borgspeak. Yet, then Indiana lowered their shoulder and pushed back. Pushing, hefting, pounding and reminding the Bulls --and you, gentle reader-- exactly of how annoying that first round playoff series last April was and in the process, sent the Bulls to their first home loss of the season.

Indiana's front court has depth [Sigh. RIP Josh McRoberts, still depth. -Ed.] in the persons of Man Mountain, Roy Hibbert and Captain Opie, Tyler Hansbrough, NB: Third member of this Justice League of Taller Ballers, The Economist, Jeff Foster was out with a sore back. Hibbert, who frequently is a nightmare for Joakim Noah, was no different on Wednesday night. Noah, for all his talents, his pogo stick legs and not-quite-yet in shape frame, wasn't a match for, in spite of the solid 10 and 13, the Colossus, see also: Howard, Dwight.

Hibbert who, by the way, is having an incredible leap in his boards per 36 this season, long season sure, still, 2 whole boards more/game, so effectively used his mass to establish presence in the paint against Noah or Asik --or a Brinks truck if Thibs had one on the bench. Combined with Hansbrough's ability to pack wallop while Roy was on the bench caused fits for the Bulls front court all night. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Chicago's vaunted Bench Mob took the night off and shot a "really good" 3-14 from the field with, I swear I love this dude, CJ Watson dropping an excellent 0-6. But that's the way the ball bounces, Indy's defense is no joke --they're holding opponents to a shade under 91 points per, and Hansbrough and Hibbert's hassling and physical play in the paint was enough to stop the Bulls at home.

It's a long season and it's only one game, but Indiana is playing the Bulls for keeps, not only to remind of them what last season's playoffs were like, but to let them know who might still be there in a scant 10 weeks when the playoffs begin anew.

 
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