User ID
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VI Mobile Scores and Betting OddsVI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds Be Social
Betting Tools

Perfect Pacers pull away from Bulls for 97-80 win

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana is off to the perfect start.

After spending the offseason and preseason talking openly about challenging Miami for the Eastern Conference title, the Pacers have backed their words with results. They've been unbeatable.

On Wednesday, against their fiercest Central Division rival, Indiana spent 3 1/2 quarters trading jabs with Derrick Rose and the Bulls before using a 12-2 fourth-quarter run to break open the game and eventually pull away for a 97-80 victory - their second in two nights, their most lopsided this season and their fifth straight to remain the NBA's last unbeaten team.

''We're deep and we have a lot of guys who contribute and make plays,'' forward David West said after finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds, both season-highs. ''That's what we're going to need as the year wears on.''

So far, there's been little to quibble with.

At 5-0, the Pacers are off to their best start since 1971-72 when they were an ABA contender. They can match the franchise's best start ever with a win Friday night at home against Toronto.

Paul George came into the game ranked No. 2 in the league in scoring and finished with 21 points and six rebounds. West and Roy Hibbert have provided the inside muscle. Lance Stephenson has been surprisingly strong through the first five games, and the scariest part is that the Pacers aren't even at full strength yet. Starting point guard George Hill missed his third straight game with a sore left hip and former All-Star Danny Granger hasn't played at all because of a strained left calf.

But even without two key contributors, Indiana has looked incredibly strong, thanks in large part to a revamped bench that came up big again Wednesday night.

Newcomers Luis Scola and Donald Sloan teamed up with Stephenson to score 22 of Indiana's 34 fourth-quarter points, including all of the points in the decisive 12-2 spurt. That's just how Larry Bird drew it up. Stephenson finished with 15 points, 12 in the fourth-quarter. Sloan had nine and Scola had 12.

''It's a great win, big for us,'' Scola said. ''The fact that we have started 5-0, we have created a little window between us and the other playoff contenders.''

The key will be holding that lead.

Indiana is in the midst of a five-games-in-seven-days stretch that has already taken them to Detroit before coming home for games with the Bulls and Raptors. On Saturday, they head to Brooklyn, then come home Monday to face Memphis.

Chicago, meanwhile, is already fighting an uphill battle. The Bulls (1-3) are now 3 1/2 games behind in the standings and down a game in the crucial head-to-head series between the last two Central Division champs.

Rose and Luol Deng each scored 17 points Wednesday, but Rose's shooting woes continued. He was 5 of 9 from the floor in the first half and only 1 of 6 in the second half to finish 6 of 15 - just slightly better than the shooting percentage he brought into the game (28.8). Kirk Hinrich scored 12 points and was the only other Chicago player to reach double figures.

''We got beat in every facet of the game, the rebounding, the defensive transition, turned it over,'' coach Tom Thibodeau said. ''We have to play 48 minutes with a good team.''

Especially in a game that looked more like a title fight than a basketball game.

Bodies crashed hard to the court all night, and the game got progressively more physical with each quarter.

Pacers backup center Ian Mahinmi left late in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle and did not return. Hinrich was called for a flagrant foul in the fourth. There was a resounding thud inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse, too, when Chicago center Joakim Noah hit the court while trying to protect his own basket late in the fourth.

Perhaps that's why Rose spent the first half of the fourth quarter on the bench.

Eventually, though, Scola, Sloan and Stephenson gave Indiana the upper hand.

Sloan tied the score at 67 with a 17-foot jumper, Stephenson gave Indiana the lead with a 3, Scola followed that with consecutive baskets and Stephenson closed the run with another 3 to make it 77-69 with 5:16 to go.

Chicago never seriously challenged again as the Pacers pulled away.

''We just play hard. We feel like that we going to bring it every night on the defensive end, offensive end and we going to find a way to get that `W,''' Stephenson said. ''And we did that tonight.''

NOTES: Rose opened the game with his best offensive half of the season, going 5 of 9 from the field with 12 points and one 3 in the first two quarters. ... The Bulls fell to 6-22 all-time at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. ... Chicago's Carlos Boozer came into the game shooting an NBA-best 65.9 percent from the field and averaging 22.3 points but went just 3 of 10 with six points.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

David: Inside the Paint - Saturday
Akins: Hoop Trends - Saturday
Mejia: Dinero Talks: Midseason Awards
Williams, Young lead Lakers past Pacers
Gobert has career game, Jazz top Mavs in OT
Nets end 11-game skid, rout Pels 143-114
Sixers rally for 93-92 win over Blazers
Warriors get 6th straight win, top Rockets
Walker helps Hornets rout Raps, 113-78
Why Buy Picks From
NBA Pro Basketball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
NBA Hot Streaks
10-4 L5 Days, +1,712 This Season
8-2 Run, 15-5 GPlays, 29-11 Totals
4-2 L6, 23-11 Streak, 8-2 Totals
6-2 Yesterday, 6-1 L7 Guarantees
4-2 L6 G-Plays, +1,744 This Year
18-7 Last 25 NBA G-Plays
2-0 Last Night, 5-0 L5 G-Plays
11-3 L14, 18-7 L25 Guarantees
10-4 Last 14 NBA G-Plays
6-3 L9, +1,373 Guarantees TY
6-1 Last 7 NBA Selections
12-4 L16 Guarantees, +1,093 TY
6-2 L8, 18-9 L27 NBA Totals
10-4 L14 Picks, 5-2 L7 Totals
8-4 L12 Over/Under Plays
4 Straight Guaranteed Wins
9-4 Last 13 NBA Picks
NBA Pro Basketball Expert Sports Picks - Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Doc's Sports + 1744
Chip Chirimbes + 1712
Mark Franco + 1093
Last 7 Day Leaders
Handicapper Money
John Fisher + 470
Chip Chirimbes + 455
Paul Bovi + 380
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Mark Franco 57 %
Chip Chirimbes 56 %
Doc's Sports 56 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Alex Smart + 1373
Chip Chirimbes + 1031
Kevin Rogers + 930
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Paul Bovi + 1163
Bill Marzano + 1140
Jimmy Boyd + 476
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mark Franco + 743
Bill Marzano + 628
Jimmy Boyd + 498
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Gold Membership