Indiana (19-37) at Chicago (29-27)

Fair Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 7° F
  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Wed Feb 24, 2010
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Although Joakim Noah(notes) has expressed a strong desire to play more minutes, the Chicago Bulls are being cautious with him as he continues to deal with plantar fasciitis.

A lack of production and minutes from Noah hasn’t hurt the Bulls against their next opponent.

In the first of two meetings this week, the Bulls host the Indiana Pacers, who may be without their leading scorer, on Wednesday night.

Chicago (29-27) was taking advantage of a favorable stretch in its schedule before suffering a 101-95 loss at Washington on Monday. The Bulls won their previous four games, all against teams with losing records.

Chicago led the Wizards by 10 at the half, but went more than 6 minutes in the third quarter without a point while being outscored 31-16. Derrick Rose(notes) scored nine points during a late run, but the Bulls were unable to get any closer than one in the final minute.

“No way we should have lost this game tonight,” said Rose, who finished with 22 points. “I tried, just trying to attack the hole, doing whatever it takes to win.”

Noah played 12 minutes and scored six points as the Bulls monitor his minutes because of foot pain. He missed eight games before playing seven minutes against Philadelphia on Saturday. Noah went 0 for 2 in that game, finishing with one point.

“I want to play,” Noah told the Bulls’ official Web site. “I want to play. What can I say? … I don’t think my foot is going to be 100 percent for the rest of the season. It’s frustrating because I want to be out there and I want to help. But I have to be healthy. I’ve got to play through it. I don’t really know what to do.”

Noah is averaging 10.9 points and a team-high 11.6 rebounds. He hasn’t been much of a factor in two wins against Indiana this season, however. Noah sat out a 109-101 win on Feb. 9 at Conseco Fieldhouse and had four points and five rebounds in 24 minutes of a 104-95 victory in Chicago on Dec. 29.

Rose, meanwhile, has been excellent against the Pacers, averaging 24.5 points and 6.5 assists this season.

Facing a struggling Indiana team without its leading scorer could help the Bulls bounce back. Danny Granger(notes) sat out the Pacers’ 91-82 loss at Dallas on Monday for personal reasons. It’s uncertain if he’ll be back Wednesday.

Without Granger, who matched a season high with 36 points in a win over Houston on Friday, the Pacers (19-37) were held below 90 points for the third time in six games while shooting 36.9 percent. They have dropped five of six.

“We couldn’t make up the 23 points that he averages,” guard T.J. Ford(notes) said. “It was tough. We didn’t make our shots, so we definitely could have used him.”

Ford, who is battling a sore groin, played 21 minutes and led the team with 14 points. Troy Murphy(notes) added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulls certainly wouldn’t miss Granger. He’s averaged 30.0 points the last three times he’s faced them.

Wednesday closes a four-game road trip for the Pacers, who host the Bulls on Saturday. Indiana has lost three in a row at the United Center.

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Wednesday, Feb 24