Friday, March 21, 2014
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Preview: Bulls at Pacers

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[March 21, 2014]  (SportsDirect Inc.)  The Indiana Pacers look to wipe away the memory of a disappointing loss when they host the Chicago Bulls on Friday in a battle of two of the league's top defensive teams. The Pacers, who lead the Eastern Conference by three games over Miami, saw their four-game winning streak end in a 92-86 loss at New York on Wednesday while recording only two assists in the first half. The Bulls have won three of their last four and stand two games ahead of Brooklyn for fourth in the East.

Indiana has been up and down the last five weeks, going 11-8 since coughing up a lead at Orlando on Feb. 9, and the Pacers know things have to change soon. "Just not playing team ball," Pacers forward David West told the Indianapolis Star. "There's no other way to slice it." Indiana is still tops in the league in scoring defense (92.2) and Chicago is a close second (92.3).

TV: 7 p.m. ET, WGN America, FSN Indiana

ABOUT THE BULLS (38-30): Chicago stands last in the league in scoring (93.4), but the Bulls have done it with balance all season long after the injury to Derrick Rose and the trade of Luol Deng. Carlos Boozer leads the team in scoring (14 per game) and averages 8.5 rebounds while Taj Gibson is next at 13.3 points, more than five better than last season. Center Joakim Noah has been a key throughout, averaging 12.3 points to go along with team bests of 11.3 rebounds, five assists and 1.5 blocks.

ABOUT THE PACERS (50-18): All the victories during their most recent four-game winning streak were against under-.500 teams  two versus Philadelphia  so Indiana wasn't rolling before New York. The Pacers just need to move the ball better and continue to lean on consistent Paul George, who averages 22.2 points and has scored at least 24 in four of the last six. Lance Stephenson (14.2) and West (14) will also be depended on offensively as the Pacers try to improve on their league-best home record of 31-4.

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BUZZER-BEATERS

  1. Chicago G Mike Dunleavy has averaged 15.8 points and drained 10-of-21 from 3-point range the last four games.

  2. George has drained 126-of-134 free throws since the beginning of February and is sixth in the league at 87.6 percent.

  3. The Bulls are 26-2 this season when they score at least 96 points in a game.

PREDICTION: Pacers 100, Bulls 92

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