This one stung.
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, an optimist for once, described his team as “determined.”
“Disappointed” is how Joakim Noah described it.
Whatever the feeling was after the Bulls’ 97-80 loss Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, it’s something they certainly don’t want to feel anytime soon. It’s one thing when they just don’t have it, have the odds against them, have to contend with bad matchups and the like. But the Pacers, a familiar foe they know like the back of their hand, beat the Bulls at their own game—defense, rebounding and resiliency—and there was nothing they could do about it.
“We got beat in every facet of the game: the rebounding, the defensive transition, turned it over. You have to play 48 minutes against good teams. We got into a hole in the first quarter and dug out of that. I thought we played well in the first half overall. Third quarter was good enough and then the fourth has to be our best, and it wasn’t,” Thibodeau explained. “Even at the end, when you’re 10 or inside 10, we compounded our mistakes with giving them threes that really hurt us. I thought when you get outrebounded like we did and give a team like that two or three cracks at it, it’s not good.”
Noah added: “They fought hard. They wanted it more than us, they got to every loose ball, every rebound. Just took it away. Disappointing.”
“Defensively, second shots, turnovers, everything. They were on the fight and we weren’t there,” he continued. “We fought with them for three quarters, and they took it from us in the fourth.”
“We’ve got to get our edge back.”
Indeed, from the frenetic and dynamic fourth quarter of shooting guard Lance Stephenson and timely second-half scoring from bench players like Luis Scola, Donald Sloan and C.J. Watson—the former Bull was a fill-in starter on this night—to mainstays like rugged power forward David West owning the boards, behemoth center Roy Hibbert dominating defensively and All-Star swingman Paul George scoring on one end and smothering Derrick Rose on the other, the Pacers had all their bases covered in front of a home crowd that’s no longer 50-50 when the Bulls are in town.
This one stung.