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Pacers 80, Bulls 76

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- Paul George scored 34 points as the Indiana Pacers rallied late to pull out an 80-76 victory over Chicago on Tuesday at the United Center.

George, who hit 2-of-18 shots in his previous two games, put the Pacers ahead 76-74 with 2:05 left on a 16-foot pull-up jumper.

The Bulls missed two chances to tie the score and Lance Stephenson got loose under the basket for a layup that made it 78-74 with 45.5 seconds on the clock.

Carlos Boozer answered with a lay-up, Chicago's first basket in almost three minutes, but he missed the free throw that could have made it a 3-point play. David West missed a jumper from the top of the key, giving the Bulls possession with 14.1 seconds left trailing by 2.

Luol Deng made a back-door cut, caught a pass and collided with Pacers center Roy Hibbert near the basket. As Deng hit the floor, no foul was called. West collected the rebound and hit two clinching free throws with 5.2 seconds to play.

Nate Robinson led the Bulls with 19 points, while Deng added 17 and Carlos Boozer scored 14. West and Hibbert scored 10 each for Indiana.

The Pacers opened a 60-51 lead with just under three minutes left in the third. Robinson came off the bench to spark a Chicago comeback. The 5-foot-9 guard scored 11 points during a 17-6 run, which sent the Bulls to a 72-68 lead with 5:10 remaining.

After Deng hit a jumper to make it 74-70, the Bulls went cold. West's short flip in the lane tied the score.

With Richard Hamilton sidelined by a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau decided to start Marco Belinelli at shooting guard. Belinelli is statistically the Bulls' best 3-point shooter this season at 40.7 percent, but he's averaging just 5.0 points.

"I just think it fits best right now," Thibodeau said. "Nothing's etched in stone, but he's played well, and Jimmy (Butler's) played well coming off the bench. We'll see how it goes."

The first half was slow-moving throughout. George scored 14 points and hit six of 11 shots from the field before halftime, while the rest of the Pacers combined to shoot 22 percent (6-for-27).

Indiana led by six points early in the second quarter, but the Bulls scored the last two baskets of the first half on a Boozer drive and Belinelli fast-break lay-in to take a 37-35 edge at intermission.

NOTES: Injured Chicago guard Derrick Rose, who suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on April 28, was seen running sprints at the Berto Center on Monday as the Bulls finished practice. That prompted speculation Rose might be ready to return to practice before the end of the month. "He's a long ways away from that, but he's doing well," Thibodeau said Tuesday. ... Chicago was the last stop on a four-game, eight-day road trip for Indiana, a stretch that included a West Coast swing. ... Heading into Tuesday's game, Chicago had won 14 of the last 16 contests against Indiana at the United Center.
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