Paul George and the Pacers look to stay hot in the Windy City
Paul George’s serious injury is a thing of the past, but Derrick Rose is still dealing with the lingering effects of his latest.
George looks to continue powering the red-hot Indiana Pacers against Rose and the Bulls on Monday night in the first of two meetings in 12 days.
The two-time All-Star missed all but the final six games last season after breaking his leg in a scrimmage while with Team USA in August 2014.
George has put the injury behind him and again looks every bit like the cornerstone of the Pacers (6-4), averaging 24.3 points and 8.8 rebounds. He’s been even better over the past six, scoring 29.3 per game with 9.3 boards while shooting 47.5 percent from the floor, including 19 of 40 from 3-point range.
He was terrific again Friday with 29 points in a 107-103 win over Minnesota that marked Indiana’s sixth in seven games since starting the season 0-3.
"Since training camp, this is the Paul George I expected to see coming back," coach Frank Vogel said. "It’s my job to put him in position to have his best season ever and he’s started off (looking) to have that type of year."
Things aren’t going quite as well for Rose, who is averaging 12.6 points and 6.0 assists while still feeling the effects of a broken orbital bone suffered during training camp – his latest in a slew of injuries over the past four years.
The 2011 MVP and three-time All-Star is wearing a protective mask, but he’s reportedly dealing with blurred vision that’s prevented him from taking on more of the scoring load. The issue could linger for as long as three more months.
With Rose hampered, Jimmy Butler is picking up the slack and leads the Bulls (6-3) with 19.4 points per game. The guard scored a season-high 27 to help Chicago overcome Rose’s 4-of-14 shooting performance in Friday’s 102-97 win against Charlotte. Rose finished with 10 points and eight assists.
"We’re a team with a lot of talent," said center Pau Gasol, who had 19 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. "When we play well and play hard and play together, we are tough to beat. We try to play up-tempo, try to play with pace, good offensively but I’m not sure there is identity per se."
Gasol at least gives the team a presence under the basket and is averaging 18.7 points, 12.0 boards and 3.0 blocks over the last three games. He’s scored 19.0 points per contest while adding 9.3 rebounds over the past three matchups with Indiana.
Butler missed the previous two meetings with an elbow injury after totaling 59 points and sinking 18 of 37 shots in the two prior to that.
George was out for all four meetings between the Central Division rivals last season, which they split. He’s averaged 22.2 points in his last five visits to Chicago.
Monta Ellis has scored 22.6 per game over his past seven at United Center after pouring in 38 in a double-overtime win with Dallas on Dec. 2. The guard had 24 points while hitting 11 of 17 from the field Friday.
The Bulls visit the Pacers on Nov. 27 to close a four-game trip that begins after this contest.