Bulls get in last word vs. Pacers

CHICAGO -- After finally getting humbled on the basketball court Saturday night, the one-loss Indiana Pacers had no choice but to be the same way off it.

The Chicago Bulls put together their best game of the season in a 110-94 victory at the United Center, dropping the Pacers to 9-1 on the season.

That talk from Paul George recently that this is the Pacers' time and that the Bulls' era was in the Michael Jordan days was not only not repeated, there was an attempt to put it into perspective.

"That was completely taken out of context," George said. "What I meant by that is ... I agree what Derrick Rose said. It's not rivalry. We haven't won a championship, the team to beat is Miami, of course. All of that was taken out of context."

George's quote last week sure sounded as if he were was calling the Bulls yesterday's news.

"We want to step away from that shadow as the 'little brothers' of this division," George said, according to NBA.com. "Their success is the Michael Jordan era. This is a new age, this is a new team. It's ours till they take it."

Perhaps "out of context" isn't exactly what he was looking for. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, perhaps George was trying to say that the Pacers feel they have the horses to match one of the best team stretches in NBA history, however bold that might be.

Maybe "blown out of proportion" is what he meant, especially after his quote went national.

The Bulls certainly seemed to have heard it. They went out Saturday and delivered a knockout blow to the tune of a 110-94 victory that wasn't as close as the final score seemed to indicate. The Bulls not only shot 58 percent from 3-point range, Luol Deng, Derrick Rose, Kirk Hinrich and Taj Gibson all set season highs for points scored.

If the Bulls appeared to have some extra motivation, George wasn't going to cop to it.

"They approached the game how you're supposed to approach it," George said. "When an opponent comes on your floor you don't let them beat you. That's how they played tonight."

Give the Pacers credit, though. Being humbled doesn't mean they were demoralized, and they even talked about Saturday's loss being a motivator to reel off a new winning streak.

"It's just one game, and [the undefeated streak] wasn't going to last forever," Roy Hibbert said. "To me, I feel like the season starts now. We'll see how we handle adversity and see how we bounce back. We haven't been challenged like this and we have to show what we're made of. It starts now for me."

The goal of Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau from the outset was to take advantage of outside shooting. Rose and Deng couldn't have executed the plan any better, carrying hot hands that left the Pacers with few answers.

The Bulls' 51 percent shooting from the field also helped neutralize the Pacers rebounding ability by simply reducing the rebounding opportunities.

"They were much more aggressive," George said. "They moved the ball. They had our defense scrambling and they made big shots."

Intensity on the court and trash talk off of it, even if it was taken out of context, only makes a divisional and regional rivalry even stronger.

"I'm not going to say that we hate the Bulls or this, that and the other," Hibbert said. "We just know they are divisional rivals and we have to come out ready to play every time or they will embarrass us every time like they did tonight. We're going to learn from this and move on."

Hibbert already sounded as if he were putting the defeat behind him.

"I don't know who we [play] next, but we have tomorrow off so I'm going to sleep in, get a little brunch in and get some video games in," Hibbert said. "Then we'll get back to work."