The Pacers are eyeing a third win in their last four road games tonight as they take on the Chicago Bulls at United Center. The Blue & Gold have won the past eight regular-season meetings with the Bulls, and 11 of the last 12 overall.
Despite another slow start Indiana and its makeshift bench rallied to lead Chicago 62-46 at halftime.
Domantas Sabonis leads all Pacers with 14 points, and needs just two rebounds in the second half to capture his 49th double-double for the season. Edmond Sumner has sparked the bench with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, while Victor Oladipo has 11 in his first game back from a sore right knee.
It was another sluggish start for Indiana. After a Sabonis layup, Chicago scored 10 straight points, including five from Denzel Valentine, to take an early 10-2 lead over the Blue & Gold with 9:09 to play in the first.
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However, after a timeout, the Pacers responded with seven straight to quickly close the gap. A Myles Turner putback slam trimmed the Bulls’ lead to 10-9 with 7:54 to play.
For the next few minutes, the teams played a contested battle, with no team reaching a lead bigger than one possession. For every Pacer shot, the Bulls had an answer. With 4:51 to play, Oladipo drilled his second three of the period. Turner then followed with a free throw to grab an 18-16 lead. But former Pacer Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter Jr teamed up to put Chicago back on top 21-18 with 3:21 to go.
However, the Pacers bench was able to grab a multi-possession lead before the quarter came to a close. With Chicago leading 23-20, JaKarr Sampson and Edmund Sumner scored all nine points of a 9-0 run. With 34.0 seconds remaining, Sumner drilled a triple from the left baseline to give Indiana a 29-23 lead. A pair of Wendell Carter Jr. free throws managed to cut Indiana’s lead to four before the frame ended.
A hot start from deep early in the second extended the lead for the Blue & Gold. T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday, and Sumner all found buckets from beyond the arc to give Indiana a 40-31 lead with 9:14 to play in the half.
Despite Chicago keeping the game within single digits, the Blue & Gold remained steadily in front for the next few minutes. Indiana continued to find success driving into the paint against the less-physical Chicago front court. Turner, Justin Holiday, Oladipo, and Sumner all found layups as part of a 9-4 Pacers run that gave them a 49-42 lead with 4:11 to go.
Sumner and Sabonis continued their impressive halves, providing Indiana its first double-digit advantage, 53-42, on consecutive layups with 2:33 left in the half.
As the half closed, Sampson provided Pacers fans with two more highlight dunks. As Oladipo dribbled on the floor, the big man cut to the bucket from the left baseline. Sampson snagged the pass and finished a right-handed, reverse flush to give Indiana a 57-44 with 1:40 to play. 37 seconds later, Sampson powered home another slam off a Sumner dish that gave Indiana a 60-44 lead. The Pacers then closed out the final minute swiftly and smoothly.
After a five-game road trip, the Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, March 10 at 7:00 PM ET. Find Tickets »
Broadcast Information TV & Radio Listings »
TV: FOX Sports Indiana – Chris Denari (play-by-play), Quinn Buckner (analyst), Jeremiah Johnson (sideline reporter/host)
Radio: 93.5/107.5 FM/1070 AM The Fan – Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Pat Boylan (studio host)