The Indiana Pacers were recently having some trouble battling the teams near the top of their respective conferences, but they have no trouble winning games against teams below them in the standings. The Pacers will try to prove that once again when they host the NBA-worst Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
Indiana dropped games at Houston and Toronto before coming home on Monday and breezing past the New York Knicks 115-97 in the opener of a six-game homestand. “It was about us tonight, coming out and trying to take care of business, playing a better game than we certainly played in New York (a 108-101 loss on Nov. 5), but a better game than our last two opponents,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan told reporters after the win. “I thought tonight we had high energy on the defensive end of the floor. We were scrapping, we were challenging every pass.” The Bulls are losers of nine in a row and were run off the floor by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 113-91 setback on Monday. Chicago seemed to be making progress with four losses by single digits, including a pair of one-point setbacks, before allowing Cleveland to shoot 51.9 percent from the floor.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Chicago, FS Indiana
ABOUT THE BULLS (3-19): Promising rookie forward Lauri Markkanen is already the go-to scorer for the young team but is struggling with his shot of late and went 5-of-13 from the floor on Monday to drop to 39.3 percent on the season. The Arizona product did not hit at least half of his shots in any of the last eight games and is 15-of-53 from 3-point range in that span. The Bulls are getting solid play from second-year point guard Kris Dunn, who led the team with 15 points on Monday and scored in double figures in 13 of the last 18 contests.
ABOUT THE PACERS (13-11): Veteran forward Thaddeus Young scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting on Monday and went 2-of-2 from 3-point range. The effort marked his third game this season with 20 or more points and seventh time that he connected on multiple 3-pointers. “That’s what a lot of teams are going towards, putting up a lot of 3s and trying to get in transition and get a lot of layups,” Young told the team’s website. “Hopefully we can continue to do that throughout the course of the season. (Monday) was a good win for us and we have to look towards playing Chicago.”
1. Bulls SF Denzel Valentine is 4-of-17 from 3-point range over the last four games.
2. Pacers C Domantas Sabonis recorded a double-double on Monday with 12 points and 12 rebounds - his first since Nov. 17.
3. Indiana breezed to a 105-87 win at Chicago on Nov. 10 behind 25 points from SG Victor Oladipo.
PREDICTION: Pacers 109, Bulls 94