Eastern Conference-leading Indiana has dropped two straight for the first time since Jan. 23-24, and has lost three of four following a seven-game winning streak.
“We’ve got to take a look in the mirror and check ourselves,” said Pacers forward Jermaine O’Neal, who had 28 points in a 99-95 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday. “We’ve got to go home and figure out a way to get back on top of things. When we give a team life and give them energy it’s hard to stop them.”
Indiana had a chance to go for a tie or the win with 19 seconds left, but Reggie Miller missed a short running jumper with seven seconds to go.
Pacers forward Jonathan Bender missed the game after bruising his shoulder in a loss to Sacramento on Friday. His status for Monday’s game is uncertain.
Chicago has won two straight, both against teams trying to secure playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. After a 96-91 win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday, the Bulls beat the New York Knicks 87-81 the next day.
“The season didn’t go how we wanted,” Bulls guard Jamal Crawford said. “We’re playing spoiler in some ways. You know Toronto and New York need these wins to secure spots in the playoffs.”
Crawford and Eddy Curry each had 25 points against the Knicks. Curry followed up his season-high 28-point effort Friday night against the Raptors by making his first seven shots Saturday. He finished 9-of-11 from the field and grabbed 14 rebounds.
“This is probably the first time I was able to go out there and score lot of points and get a lot of rebounds and we actually won the game,” Curry said. “My stats actually meant something.”
Curry also had four blocks, and he tied a season high in rebounds.