How it happened: Nate Robinson had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead the Bulls to a win in their preseason finale. Luol Deng added 17 points. Taj Gibson chipped in nine points and 11 rebounds.The Bulls played well in spurts and seemed to have hit their stride throughout the first half against their Central Division rival.
What it means: For three quarters, the Bulls played solid basketball. The offense was running crisp sets and the defense was looking solid. The Bulls were simply playing harder than the Pacers. The issue for Tom Thibodeau is that the execution wasn't the same in the fourth quarter. Yes, the Bulls pulled out a victory, but they almost blew a 12-point lead and didn't look as confident in the final minutes. The Bulls are going to win a fair share of their games this season just playing harder and tougher than their opponents. The problem is that without Derrick Rose to go to in the fourth quarter, the ultimate safety net is no longer available. They've got to continue to learn how to play without him in order to be successful. The good news is that Rip Hamilton and Robinson knocked down shots with under a minute left to secure the victory. The odds are high that in the foreseeable future without Rose, Hamilton will be looked upon to take on his role late in games.
Stat of the night: The Bulls out-rebounded the Pacers 50-37.
Hits: After struggling to find his range all of preseason, Marco Belinelli finally knocked down a 3-pointer and a couple other shots to boost his confidence.
Misses: Gibson's jumper. The fourth-year forward has played very solid defense and grabbed plenty of rebounds in the preseason, but he just can't seem to find a consistent rhythm with his shot right now. He was just 2-for-7 on Friday and finished the preseason 15-for-46 from the field.
What's next: The Bulls will practice the next few days before opening up the regular season Wednesday night at home against the Sacramento Kings.