September 19, 2014
Paul George’s jump shot on Saturday night?
Well, not so good.
But his backpedal, now that was All-Star caliber.
Then again, a 110-94 loss and an end to a nine-game winning streak at the hands of the Bulls can be humbling.
It was after a 97-80 victory over the Bulls on Nov. 6 that the Pacers forward told NBA.com, “We want to step away from that shadow as the ‘little brothers’ of this division. [The Bulls’] success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It’s ours till they take it.”
The Bulls not only took it but smashed it and threw it in the trash, and afterward George ducked from it.
“That was completely taken out of context,” George said. “What I meant by that is … I agree what Derrick Rose said, it’s not a rivalry. We haven’t won a championship; the team to beat is Miami, of course. All of that was taken out of context.’’
Whether it was or wasn’t, like “little brother,’’ the Pacers have been poking at Bulls players the last three seasons. Now that the Pacers are 9-1 and the streak is over, Bulls forward Taj Gibson has some big-brotherly advice.
“Players are going to talk,’’ Gibson said. “The best thing to do in this league is just play your game, worry about your game. Don’t worry about talking trash, just play your game. We let our game talk for us. We don’t have time to get into battles of he said, she said.
“We just go out there and play.’’
That they did and from the beginning.
With Rose back on the court after missing Friday’s win in Toronto with a sore right hamstring, the Bulls (5-3) jumped out to a 31-20 first-quarter advantage and never really looked back, building that lead to as much as 33 points.
Rose was a big reason why, tying a career-high with six three-pointers. He scored 20 points for the first time this season.
“I was knocking down shots and really pushing the ball up the court,’’ Rose said. “Usually when we get a lead, go up 10, 15 points, we’ve let teams come back, but the shots they were giving me, they were going under screens — I don’t know why they were doing that — and I just stayed back and shot them.’’
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 23 points and held George, averaging 24.6 points, in check with 12.
“Every night we play them they’re going to be the ones talking and we can’t really feed into that,’’ Rose said of George’s comments.
Not that the Pacers should be shocked that their streak ended. Since last season, the United Center is the place where streaks go to die. The Heat saw a 27-game streak ended there, and the Knicks a 13-game streak.
The Bulls and Pacers won’t see each other until March 21, but the ejections of Carlos Boozer and Chris Copeland for shoving each other was a reminder of the disdain shared between division rivals.“They approached the game how you’re supposed to approach it,” George said. “When an opponent comes on your floor you don’t let them beat you. That’s how they played.’’
“Little brother’’ just might be learning.