The Bulls and Pacers played a hard-nosed game of basketball last night, which resulted in the lowest-scoring first half in the NBA this season and an eventual 89-77 win for Chicago. Note to the Eastern (and possibly Western?) conference: Don’t try to out-work the Bulls. That’s their thing.
The best and most telling sequence of the entire game — and perhaps of the last month (I’ll explain later) — can be seen below. Paul George thinks he has a lay-up, or at least a foul, and is instead stripped by Kirk Hinrich. After an outlet pass and missed shot, Taj Gibson (who finished with a game-high 23 points) cleans up:
SO. MUCH. EMOTION. Everyone in this arena is either deliriously happy or blood pressure-spikingly mad. Gibson is insane. David West is furious. The announcers are loving it. All is right in the basketball world (except for Pacers’ fans) on a play like that.
Let’s take this up another level. This play is emblematic of both teams at the moment. The Pacers are 7-7 in March and have no answers to the question “Why are you suddenly not good?” Meanwhile, the Bulls have been coming on strong. Teams without a superstar aren’t supposed to be this good, but the Bulls have the heart to carry them through.
The playoffs are coming. Get excited.