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Bulls end Pacers' streak at 9

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls ended another long winning streak Saturday at the United Center.

The Indiana Pacers were practically running away with the Eastern Conference lead after starting the season 9-0. The perfect record came to an end when the Bulls delivered a convincing 110-94 victory.

This game brought back memories of last season when the Bulls ended Miami's 27-game winning streak on March 27.

"We were just trying to come out here and win the game. We really didn't talk about the streak or whatever," Chicago guard Derrick Rose said. "We lost to them last time (on Nov. 6) and we were just trying to pay them back."

Forward Luol Deng led the Bulls (5-3) with 23 points. Rose, who missed Friday's win at Toronto with a sore right hamstring, scored 20 points and knocked down 6 of 11 attempts from 3-point range. Forward Taj Gibson added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. The Bulls shot 50.6 percent from the field.

"I thought our guys played very unselfishly," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought we had a good rhythm for most of the game."

Center Roy Hibbert led the Pacers with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Forwards David West and Chris Copeland added 13 points each.

Indiana forward Paul George, called a superstar by Thibodeau before the game, had a rough night. He hit 3 of 14 shots and finished with 12 points, marking the first time this season he scored less than 20.

"It's not about a streak," George said. "We have to approach every game the same way. It's our first loss of the year. It will just keep us working harder."

At the start of the night, Indiana led the league by a wide margin in points allowed (83.7) and defensive field-goal percentage (.386). Chicago turned the tables in the first half, shooting 54.8 percent while building a 60-35 lead. The Pacers hadn't allowed more than 50 points in a half.

"It was just a tough night for our guys," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "You have to give credit to the Bulls. They just outplayed us. We all had an off night. That includes myself as well as the players."

Chicago made its move early in this one, using a 10-0 run to open a quick 15-5 advantage. Late in the second quarter, the Bulls buried 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions -- the first by guard Kirk Hinrich, then two from Rose -- to build the lead to 53-30 with 2:46 left in the half.

Heading into this weekend, the Bulls were one of the league's worst 3-point shooting teams, at 26.3 percent. After knocking down 7 of 16 attempts from long range at Toronto, they drained nine of their first 11 shots against Indiana and ended up 11 of 18.

"We were just knocking down shots," Rose said. "All the other games we played in, my shots weren't falling. The only thing that changed tonight is we saw some go in and I think that's all we needed."

Chicago's lead finally peaked at 33 points when guard Jimmy Butler hit a corner 3-pointer while fouled and finished the four-point play to make it 82-49 with 3:36 left in the third quarter.

Copeland and Chicago forward Carlos Boozer were ejected after a minor skirmish with 21.9 seconds left.

Both teams were playing the second leg of back-to-back games. The Bulls played in Toronto on Friday, while Indiana hosted Milwaukee.

NOTES: Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau usually isn't very forthcoming about a player's injury status before games. Saturday was an exception. He told reporters well before tipoff that Derrick Rose would play after sitting out the previous night in Toronto with a sore right hamstring. "One, he had to be cleared by (trainer) Fred (Tedeschi) and, two, he's got to feel like he's good enough to play," Thibodeau said before the contest. ... Indiana coach Frank Vogel said F Danny Granger tried practicing full speed this week, then had to back off. Granger hasn't played this season because of a strained left calf. "He had some soreness right afterwards," Vogel said. "So we backed off until that's gone and he'll hope to practice next week again." ... Guard Paul George is the second player in NBA history to score 20 points in nine straight games, all victories, to start a season. Wilt Chamberlain did it in 1960. ... The Bulls and Pacers won't play again until March 21 in Indianapolis.
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