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(Monday, March 24th)
Final Score: Chicago 89, Indiana 77
Chicago, IL (SportsNetwork.com) - Taj Gibson scored a game-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting off the bench, and the Chicago Bulls grinded out an 89-77 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers at United Center.
Kirk Hinrich checked in with 18 points, Mike Dunleavy netted 13 and Joakim Noah again filled the box score with 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, four steals and three blocks despite dealing with foul trouble.
Paul George needed 22 shots to put up 21 points in a losing effort, while George Hill and David West contributed 17 and 14 points, respectively.
The Pacers could have wrapped up the Central Division title but shot just 37.0 percent from the floor in losing for the third time in four games.
The one win came against Chicago on Friday, but they followed that up with their lowest scoring output of the season in an 82-71 setback in Memphis.
"Everything has been so lackadaisical," George said. "It's going to get you beat."
Indiana again struggled putting points up on Monday despite scoring the game's first seven points, with the seven-point lead serving as the largest for either squad prior to Chicago's resurgence early in the third quarter.
The Bulls shot just 31.8 percent from the floor in the first half, including a 1-for-10 effort from behind the arc, and went into halftime trailing 34-33 after Hill beat the buzzer with a 3-pointer.
Adjustments were apparently made in the locker room as Chicago scored on seven of its first eight possessions out of the break en route to a 14-3 run, with Dunleavy providing half of the offense.
A Hinrich 3-pointer brought the margin to a dozen, 55-43, and it was a 64-56 Bulls lead heading to the fourth thanks to Chicago making 59.1 percent (13- of-22) of their shots in the frame.
"We just wanted to come out in the second half and be aggressive," Hinrich said.
Hill's three-point play with 4:30 on the clock got the Pacers within 77-71, but Indiana went the next three minutes without making a bucket.
Hinrich bookended an 8-2 run with a pair of successful drives to the rim, and the Bulls held on for their third win in four games.
Indiana heads into Wednesday's game against the Miami Heat two games ahead of the defending champions in the East standings ... Noah led the Bulls in assists for the 10th time in the last 11 games ... Indiana came in surrendering an NBA-low 91.9 ppg and the Bulls were right behind at 92.1 ... The Pacers turned it over 16 times and forced 10 turnovers ... Chicago shot 3-of-5 from the perimeter in the second half ... These Central Division rivals split the four-game season series, with each winning twice on their own home floor.
03/24 22:46:17 ET
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