INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George scored 32 points, including 11 in the final 4 1/2 minutes Friday, to help the Indiana Pacers snap a four-game losing streak with a 111-101 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
George broke a 97-97 tie by making a jumper with 4:07 left, then made three free throws on Indiana’s next possession and a layup with 2:52 left for a 102-99 lead. The Pacers sealed the win with a 9-2 spurt.
Jimmy Butler scored 25 points and Dwyane Wade added 20, but the Bulls never quite figured it out after facing an early 20-8 deficit.
They didn’t closer than three until Michael Carter-Williams’ three-point play finally tied the score at 95 with 6:03 to go. After tying it again at 97, George answered with three free throws and a layup to give Indiana a 102-99 lead that it never relinquished.
“We didn’t get stops early or late,” Butler said. “Our play at the very end was frustrating because we came all the way back. Credit Paul George, he’s a heck of a player and can definitely finish.”
Bulls: Despite having seven turnovers in the first quarter, Chicago trailed 28-22. … Wade left the game with 7:28 to go after appearing to hurt his left wrist after taking an awkward tumble. He returned with 4:07 to go. Even before the game, coach Fred Hoiberg wouldn’t commit to using Wade on Saturday. … Chicago was 6 of 23 on 3-pointers.
Bulls guard Rajon Rondo had a miserable night. He picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes and his third late in the first half.
His poor first half, which including more fouls than assists (two) or made shots (zero) combined, earned him a spot on the bench to start the second half. Michael Carter-Williams started in Rondo’s place and scored nine of his 12 points in the final two quarters.
“Nothing surprises me in this league,” Rondo said. “I’m a veteran, I’m a professional. I will always prepare well with the expectation to play and contribute.”
THE HOT SEAT?
Before the game, Hoiberg was asked about a report from earlier this week suggesting his job may be in jeopardy.
The second-year coach tried to shrug off speculation by noting all he really wanted to do was put together a game plan that would help the Bulls play more consistently — and win some games.
Bulls: Chicago will try to turn the tables Saturday when Milwaukee visits. The Bulls scored a season low 69 points in a Dec. 15 loss when these two last met.
Pacers: Hosts Orlando on Sunday. Indiana has won 12 of the last 14 regular-season games in the series.
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