Pacers try to keep focus against NBA-worst Bulls
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers are coming off a game where they played a New York Knicks team that was without its two top scorers — Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway — due to injury.
The Pacers stayed focused and were dominant in a 115-97 rout. Now the Pacers (13-11) host the Chicago Bulls, who have the worst record in the NBA. The Bulls (3-19) lost their ninth in a row Monday night, a 113-91 decision to visiting Cleveland.
“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we have to have the same mindset,” Pacers guard Victor Oladipo said. “We have to go out there and attack on both ends of the floor. We have to play at a high level and the wins will come.”
Indiana forward Thaddeus Young agreed maintaining focus will be key.
“It’s always about execution and just running everything through, continuing to play our basketball and just locking in on the defense end,” Young said.
Bulls point guard Kris Dunn said the team is focused on remaining positive despite the struggles.
“Right now, we are not trying to look at the losses, we are trying to go out and get a win,” Dunn told Bulls.com. “Once we get a win, I think we can get that monkey off our back. It’s all in the person, be positive, be able to withstand the tough times we are going through, the toughest players get through adversity and that’s what we have to do. Keep improving every day in practice, try to get that onto the court.”
Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said his team had a chance to win six games during the first eight games of the losing streak.
“Six of (the losses) were seven points or under, and then you had two blowouts against Golden State and against Utah, where you saw similar things that happened in this game (against Cleveland),” Hoiberg said. “The big thing we talk about is going out, competing, playing the right way and giving ourselves a chance to win. We’ve done that lately for the most part. (Monday night), we took a step backwards.
Guard Justin Holiday said the Bulls understand they have lost a lot of games.
“We all don’t like that,” Holiday said. “Again, we’re all going through this very positive. The next game we’re trying to get that one to start it for us. We’re going to continue until we do and then we are going to try to get another.”
Pacers guard Cory Joseph, who scored 12 points against the Knicks, is listed as questionable with a sore left shoulder. Joseph was one of seven players in doubles figures for the Pacers against New York.
“We’ve been doing a good job keeping it balanced for the most part throughout the season,” Pacers point guard Darren Collison said. “(Monday) was more about our defense than our offense.”
In the season’s first meeting on Nov. 10, Oladipo scored 25 points to help the Pacers beat the Bulls 105-87 in Chicago.