The Indiana Pacers, resting a few players, lost their final game of the 2011-12 regular season, to the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night. The Pacers have already locked up the third seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and will have home court advantage when they play the sixth seeded Orlando Magic in the first round. The Bulls have secured the top seed in the East, but are still fighting for the best record in the NBA, and home court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs.
Even with the loss on Wednesday, the Pacers finished with their best record since the 2003-04 season, and had a 12-3 record in April. Indiana had put up 100 points or more in nine straight games, until losing to the Bulls by a score of 92-87. Chicago took a 4-0 lead early, and never looked back. The Pacers scored only 12 points in the second quarter, and trailed by 13 at the half. The lead got as big as 15 points in the third quarter, but the Pacers cut that lead down to seven several times, before losing the game by five points in the end. Indiana, who played bench players for most of the night, never led in the game.
Lance Stephenson, making his first career start, led all scorers with a career-high 22 points. Stephenson was starting in place of Danny Granger, who was resting a sore knee. Stephenson played nearly 35 minutes, and hit 10 of his 15 shots from the floor.
Wednesday was fan appreciation night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers honored their ABA Championship teams of the past, including 2012 Hall of Fame inductee, Mel Daniels. After the game, the Pacers remained on the court, signing autographs and passing out free jerseys, shoes, and basketballs for hundreds of Pacers fans…and at least a hundred or more fair-weather Bulls fans. Win or lose, Indiana is just happy and proud to be back in contention for an NBA Championship.