Luol Deng, Derrick Rose ensure Pacers undefeated no more

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It was just one of those nights for Indiana.

A few times a season teams have games where they just can’t do anything right. Indiana’s first off night of the season — and the first night their defense took a vacation — came in Chicago on the night the Bulls found their missing groove on offense and the result was a blowout 110-94 Chicago win that turned the entire second half into garbage time.

The Pacers fall to 9-1 but are still on top of the Eastern Conference. The Bulls improve to 5-3. The two Central division rivals have spit their first two games this season.

The vaunted Pacers defense could not contain the Bulls offense Saturday. Chicago got 46 points in the paint on 59 percent shooting, plus they hit 11-of-19 from three. Whatever they tried to do worked.

The real good news for Bulls fans was Derrick Rose had his best game of the young season and found his jump shot — he had 20 points and hit 6-of-11 from three. It wasn’t a perfect night for him, Rose was 0-3 in the paint dealing with the size of Roy Hibbert in his way, but he led a Bulls offense to a big night.

Luol Deng had 23 points on 14 shots, and seven Bulls scored in double figures.

The Chicago run started early — the Bulls make seven straight shots early in the first quarter and jumped out to 10-point lead. Chicago pushed the pace early (30 first quarter possessions) and they got buckets before Indy got set. Deng had 12 first quarter points and Indy was up 11 after one.

Then in the second quarter the Bulls just could not miss — they shot 66.7 percent and hit 5-of-5 from three. They shared the ball and the Pacers defense struggled with the onslaught, giving up some dunks at the rim.

The Pacers were up 60-35 at the half and the game was over from there.

Indy fans took to twitter angry with the officiating, but that was not the issue. Yes, the refs let this one get physical but teams need to adjust to how a game is called and Indy did not. Pacers players were missing shots and looking at the refs expecting calls that were not coming.

Paul George was 3-of-14 shooting, David West 6-of-16, Lance Stephenson 5-of-14 and as a team the Pacers shot just 40 percent.

Credit the Bulls defense with some of that — they are defending like you expect of them again.

If they can combine that with Rose finding his groove and some more consistent offense, the Bulls are going to start to look a lot more dangerous.

But don’t read too much into this game, this was one of those nights for the Pacers.

Isaiah Thomas loses tooth, calmly hits two 3-pointers vs. Wizards (VIDEO)

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Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is going to need a dentist after Sunday’s Game 1 against the Washington Wizards. While trying to fight around a screen, Thomas caught a spare elbow and wound up with his dental work all over the floor at TD Garden.

The play came in the first quarter as Thomas was trying to guard Washington’s Otto Porter Jr. coming off a screen. As Porter reached for the ball as the pass came to him on the curl, he wound up whacking Thomas in the front of his grill.

Thomas’ tooth could be seen on slo-mo replay flying across the air.

Warning: sort of gross.

Via Twitter:

Gross! Although it should be said that it seems possible that Thomas’ tooth is actually a bridge, which is to say it was missing already. The Celtics medical staff was able to put the tooth back in during the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Thomas came back up the floor after losing his tooth and hit two 3-pointers, so perhaps it’s good luck?

Why is Robin Lopez holding this dog during his exit interview? (VIDEO)

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What did Chicago Bulls center Robin Lopez have to say during his exit interviews? I can’t really tell, it’s all a bunch of white noise. All I see is him holding his giant, shaggy dog named Muppet while speaking to reporters.

I can’t get over it, really. Why hasn’t someone thought of this before?

Lopez is the perfect candidate to do this if you think about it, given his propensity to be a little off-kilter.

Via Twitter:

Lopez was mostly talking about taking away positives from a weird Bulls season in which they struggled all year until miraculously making the 8-seed before challenging top-ranked Boston in round 1.

Clippers, Jazz prepare for Game 7 in Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES  (AP) – Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul was adamant the sun would not set on Paul Pierce‘s NBA run in Salt Lake City on Friday night.

“I looked over at ‘Truth’ during one of (those) timeouts and I said ‘You’re not ending your career in Utah,’ ” said Paul, referring to Pierce’s popular nickname. “We told him that. We just said we want to keep this thing going for him. Paul was big tonight. Like the 3 he hit over there on the wing, and stuff like that. Just his energy and his voice in those different timeouts I think was huge for us.”

With a crucial 98-93 victory over the Utah Jazz in Game 6, the Clippers will attempt to extend the career of the 39-year-old Pierce, who is retiring at season’s end, and capture the series Sunday in Game 7 at Staples Center.

The winner advances to the second round to meet the Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven affair beginning Tuesday at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

Paul, whose two late free throws sealed the win against the Jazz, led the charge by scoring 29 points, dishing eight assists and allowing the Clippers to avoid elimination in the opening round for the second straight season. The Portland Trail Blazers bounced them last season in six games, aided by injuries to Paul and Blake Griffin.

And as Paul loathes to hear, the point guard has never guided a team past the second round.

“This is what we talked about before (Game 6),” said Paul, who has become the Clippers’ main force offensively with Griffin out of the playoffs again, this time with an injury to his big toe. “Doc (Rivers) said to go out there and give yourself a chance. We knew we couldn’t win both games (Friday), and we wanted to give ourselves a chance.”

Utah will have another opportunity to end Pierce’s career on Sunday despite missing a chance on its home court. After the Jazz won Game 5 on Tuesday at Staples, All-Star forward Gordon Hayward made it clear he didn’t want to return for a Game 7.

Hayward, though, is humming a different tune now.

“We’ve come a long way from where we were three years ago,” Hayward told the Salt Lake Tribune. “If you had told me at the beginning of the year you’d be in a Game 7 against the Clippers in L.A., I’d have been like, ‘Bring it on.’ ”

The Jazz will be forced to bring their best with center Rudy Gobert hobbling again. Gobert, who sustained a hyperextended left knee in Game 1 that kept him out of the lineup for two games, sprained his ankle in the second half of Game 6 and was forced to the bench because of it during critical stretches.

Gobert said the ankle wouldn’t hinder him Sunday.

“I sprained it on somebody’s foot,” said Gobert, who finished with 15 points, nine boards and three blocks, according to the Tribune. “I tried to run through it, but that didn’t work out. I’ve had a lot of sprained ankles before. I will be good.”

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.