After one quarter, it looked like the Indiana Pacers were going to run away from an extremely short-handed Chicago Bulls team in a big divisional contest on Sunday night. But the Pacers found themselves in a dogfight, barely pulling out a 97-92 victory thanks to 31 points from David West.
The Bulls had little answer for West all night long, and it was the veteran power forward who had the key bucket with 32 seconds left to put the Pacers up five. West's frontcourt mate Roy Hibbert also had a lot of success down low, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. George Hill scored 21 points and had 11 points in the fourth quarter, but he did miss three late free throws that gave Chicago a last gasp chance.
The Pacers led by 11 points after the first quarter, and with the Bulls going to a rarely used bench lineup in the second quarter, had a great opportunity to extend it. But Chicago -- which was without Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton and Taj Gibson due to injuries -- fought hard, surprisingly closing the gap to seven at the half.
The Bulls continued to battle throughout the second half, answering nearly every single punch the Pacers threw at them. Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler both had big games, helping keep Chicago in it until the very end. Belinelli and Butler had 20 points apiece to lead the Bulls in the tough loss.
Indiana moved four games ahead of Chicago in the Central Division, but it was not all good news for the Pacers. Danny Granger left the game with a sore left knee, the same knee that he injured prior to the season.
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