Hinrich's career-high 38 leads Bulls past PacersJan 24, 2008 - 5:38 AM By Rory Spears PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Maybe, the Chicago Bulls should play shorthanded more often.
Without Ben Gordon (wrist), Luol Deng (Achilles tendinitis), and Chris Duhon (knee), Kirk Hinrich scored a career-high 38 points as the Bulls beat the visiting Indiana Pacers, 108-95, on Wednesday.
Hinrich also grabbed seven rebounds and handed out 10 assists and Andres Nocioni - starting in place of Deng - scored 24 for Chicago, which now has won nine of the last 11 against Indiana at the United Center.
"I was conscious that I had to pick up the scoring with us missing our two leading scorers," Hinrich said. "We had to have a collective effort as a team and we did that."
Thabo Sefolosha, who started in place of Gordon, added 14 for the Bulls, who broke open a close game early in the fourth quarter.
"Games like this make you stronger as a team," Sefolosha said. "Everyone knows they have to step up, we are still in the playoff race, so we have to continue to play like we did tonight."
After Mike Dunleavy Jr. drilled two foul shots to cut Indiana's deficit to 79-77 at the 10:35 mark, Chicago went on a 12-3 run capped by a 19-foot jumper by Hinrich with 7:11 remaining.
"Indiana is a tough team to play," Hinrich said. "They are so good at shooting threes and, at times, we did a good job of guarding them from the 3-point line. Then we rode the wave to the win."
Hinrich, who connected on 14-of-21 from the floor - including 4-of-5 from 3-point range, paced the Bulls with six points in the spurt.
"It just feels good to get a 'W,'" Hinrich said. "The second half we did a great job of staying aggressive when we had to."
Nocioni scored seven points and rookie Joakim Noah had six of his 14 points and five of his season-high 15 boards in the fourth for Chicago, which shot 48 percent (40-of-84).
"I know I still have a lot to prove," Noah said. "Coach is letting me play more in important situations and that feels good."
The Bulls raced out to a five-point lead in the first quarter at 19-14 after Noah's hook shot with 4:12 left. The Pacers, behind Danny Granger's 10 first-quarter points, rallied to trail by just three after the period.
"I just didn't like our shot selection," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "We took a lot of challenged shots early, that's not what we want to do."
Chicago built the lead back to 17 points at 50-33 after Hinrich's layup with 5:27 left in the first half. It still held a 14-point lead at intermission.
Granger scored a career-high 33 points and Kareem Rush added 13 for Indiana, which shot a dismal 39 percent (32-of-83).
"I would trade my points for a 'W",'" Granger said. "We came out flat, they went on a big run, and we just didn't respond."
The Pacers (19-24) played without Jermaine O'Neal and Troy Murphy, who each were out with a sore right knee.
"It was a different game out there with so many important players missing," Granger said. "I think both teams had to change the gameplan a bit."
CHICAGO 108 FINAL
Jan 23 10:51 PM
CHICAGO 79 END, 3RD QTR
Jan 23 10:22 PM
CHICAGO 57 HALFTIME
Jan 23 9:37 PM
CHICAGO 27 END, 1ST QTR
Jan 23 9:07 PM
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