Wednesday night, the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls went at it — for about three quarters. In a big game for both teams, the Bulls found themselves down after the first quarter and battled back to take a halftime lead. In the third quarter, the Pacers took back control and ultimately outscored Chicago by 16 in the fourth.
After the game, Pacers forward Paul George — who happens to be playing as good of basketball as anyone in the league — had a few choice words as he found himself caught up in the moment.
“We want to step away from that shadow as the ‘little brothers’ of this division,” George said to NBA.com. “Their success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”
In what was an interesting shot at the Bulls, George made a good point. But, he has to remember, his Pacers haven’t won a title since Jordan’s Bulls either. Correct me if I’m wrong — which I’m not — but, the power in the Eastern Conference belongs to the Miami Heat as the defending champions. But, that’s a completely different debate.
For Chicago, they rarely need any “bulletin board material” due to the toughness they already possess thanks to a coach like Tom Thibodeau. But, starting out 1-3 isn’t necessarily beginning the year with a bang and should be taken to heart. In a season that’s already featuring many other teams that look a lot better, the Bulls are not one of them.
This Chicago team will go as Derrick Rose goes in 2013. The ball is in his hands on every single possession he’s on the floor. He’s taking the most shots, primarily. He’s the number one scorer — or at least should be. Rose has to get his game to where it should be, or the Bulls aren’t going anywhere.
If I’m Chicago, and specifically Rose, I’m looking at those words said by a rival superstar and using it as fuel to the fire. This team looked phenomenal in the preseason, as did Rose individually, but this is the regular season now and things get serious. It is time for this Bulls squad to wake up and snap out of the funk that is the beginning of their 2013 season.
It all starts with defense. This team prides itself on tough, physical and hounding defense. Thus far, we’ve only seen it in spurts and not for a full game. Once Chicago gets back to its roots, it’s all gravy from there. As we know, a solid defense will lead to points. Turnovers will lead to fast break opportunities, and this team is chock full of guys that can run the break and get to the basket.
It’s not panic time yet, Chicago — in fact, it’s not even close. We’ve got 78 games to go, which is quite the long road ahead. These guys will be back in the saddle before you know it, and the words spoken by George could be exactly what jumpstarts that fire.