Five takeaways from Pacers’ 111-94 win over Bulls

The Pacers defeated the Chicago Bulls Saturday night 111-94 in front of an announced crowd of 17,020 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Below are five takeaways from the win to move the Pacers (3-3) back to .500 and improve to 3-0 at home in what coach Nate McMillan called “a dominating win.”

Paul George has to be smarter

George is 26 and a veteran in the league. He’s reached the Eastern Conference Finals twice, played in three All-Star games, and won an Olympic gold medal.

It was a minor incident, and an accident — obviously — when George kicked the ball in frustration and it hit a TV worker in the face instead of the stanchion. But leagues protect its fans from preventable offenses. Fortunately, the Pacers were up by 20 and the Bulls never challenged them all night. As the leader of this team, he cannot take himself out of games.

[Paul George expects a fine after ejection for kicking the ball into the stands]

“Emotions took over in that situation and he knows that’s something he can’t do,” McMillan said afterwards.

Monta Ellis – the distributor?

The Pacers’ starting shooting guard spent time bringing the ball up and setting up the offense. Taking advantage of matchups, that moved Jeff Teague to the corner while Ellis initiated the offense.

“I don’t think I’m handling the ball more,” Ellis said affirmatively. “Just when my number called, I just used my opportunity to move the ball, get guys open shots, and they’ve been knocking them down.”

It’s a luxury for the Pacers to be able to go back and forth, depending on the defender. The Pacers are wanting to push it anyways, so it also enables any of the guards to rush the ball up the floor.

“He takes a lot of pressure off Monta, and it’s vice-versa,” George said.

Ellis, who scored two points and attempted just two shots, impacted the game by recording six assists 10 minutes into the game and finishing with a team-high of eight. He also grabbed seven rebounds. The Pacers as a group took much better care of the ball, recording only 12 turnovers.

“We have to patient with this group and figure out how we are going to attack teams defensively because we do have a number of guys who we can give the ball to,” said McMillan.

Teague scored a game-high 21 points in the Pacers' win over the Bulls. [Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Teague scored a game-high 21pts. [Frank McGrath/PS&E]

Teague shines

The Indy native easily had his best game as a Pacer. He scored a game-high 21 points, shooting an efficient 9-of-14 from the field, and dished out six assists.

“It’s about time I made a shot,” he joked afterwards.

10 days into the regular season and now with six games behind him, things should begin to come easier. Improving team chemistry is ongoing and they’re still figuring out how best to attack opponents.

“I thought everybody was aggressive which really opened the floor up for Jeff,” said George. “We got stops, which allowed him to be special in the fast break game and that’s really where he was explosive at.”

Dreaded back-to-backs

Nobody enjoys teams playing on back-to-back nights, fans included. That’s because you rarely see a team at their best. The team arrives early in the morning, their schedule is thrown off, and there’s less time for preparation.

The Pacers went to Chicago on Oct. 29, after losing in Brooklyn the night before, and lost 118-101. But on Saturday, roles were reversed. The Bulls lost Friday to New York, then got smacked by the Pacers — trailing by as many as 27. The Pacers have 17 sets of back-to-back games, and have one already behind them.

Step forward on defense

The Pacers shot a season-best 53.5 from the floor and coach McMillan has stressed that better defense will come from an improved offensive output. That’s a completely opposite mentality from previous years. Well, the Pacers, who had given up an average of 115 points through the first five games, held their first opponent below the century mark.

“Big step,” McMillan said of the defense. “This is what we feel we can do out on the feel. It’s going to process and it’s going to take time.”

Dwyane Wade shot a brutal 1-of-9 and chipped it only four points. Jimmy Butler added 16.

“I feel like we know what each other do a little bit more now,” said second-year center Myles Turner. “The first couple of games, we were still trying to get a feel for one another. We didn’t get a chance to establish our chemistry in training camp. I think our trust with each other is what’s evolved.”

The Pacers are now 3-0 at home. They’ll go for their first road win over the season (0-2) on Monday in Charlotte.

“This is the type of game we want to build off of,” McMillan added.

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