The Chicago Bulls were ahead by 21 points in the third quarter. A Monday night visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse sure seemed decided.
That the Indiana Pacers rallied with their reserves to take a late lead showed determination. But a 92-90 Pacers loss didn’t constitute a moral victory.
The Pacers (11-21) can’t believe in such things, even after a comeback with a 20-0 run that had a sellout crowd of 18,165 standing and cheering until the bottom dropped out at the end.
“(A) 20-0 run didn’t win the game,” said reserve guard-forward C.J. Miles, who scored 11 points off the bench. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of how we fought. (But) at the end of the day, when it’s time to start counting the win and loss columns and we’re pushing for the playoffs or whatever the seed or whatever you’re going to be, nobody says, ‘Well, they had that 20-0 run back in December.’”
It’s all about the outcome. Bottom line.
“That 20-point run, you go on that to win the game,” Miles said.
Guard Chris Copeland came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points. It was his best scoring output since the same total on Nov. 12.
“At the end of the day, I don’t believe in moral victories,” Copeland said, “but you can always find a positive in a negative situation. We didn’t win the game. That’s the objective. But we showed we can lock down a very tough team that’s one of the better teams in the league, I think. We showed we can make it very difficult for ‘em.”
The Bulls (22-9) lead the Eastern Conference’s Central Division. This was their seventh consecutive victory. But they literally hung on. The Bulls scored just 11 fourth-quarter points and hit just 2-of-21 shots. During a stretch of 11 minutes and 8 seconds from late in the third quarter to late in the fourth quarter, Chicago missed 17 consecutive shots.
Pacers starting forward David West, who scored 10 points, acknowledged the reserves “upped the ante” with their energy.
“I thought their pressure was the best we had all night,” West said of the defense.
He was disappointed the comeback ended with the Pacers’ sixth loss by three points or less.
“I thought the guys who were on the floor did a good enough job to give themselves a chance,” West said.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.