I refuse to be concerned. The Indiana Pacers got off to a good start against the Chicago Bulls, but in the end Derrick Rose (32 points) proved to be the difference as the Bulls held on 103-98 for their 5th consecutive preseason win and the Pacers winless in their preseason.
The Bulls will most probably be the best regular season team in the NBA this season. They just have that mechanical pressure they apply at both ends of the floor and Derrick Rose to close things out when needed. They rarely lose against bad teams or lose a big lead because they are like robots. The Pacers, on the other hand, are still learning that killer instinct and never-take-the-foot-off-the-pedal mentality, and to be honest I'm not sure if they ever will.
But at least it puts this preseason loss in perspective. The team is still recovering from their grueling Asia trip and Paul George was a big question mark for the game recovering from bronchitis, though to be fair Joakim Noah and Jimmy Butler were also out recovering from ailments leading up to the start of the regular season.
Still, the Pacers put together their best preseason game to date. David West had 17 points, Paul George had 22, Roy Hibbert had 18 (without Noah to guard him) and, in perhaps the most promising sign, Danny Granger had 11 points and hit all of his three 3-pointers. Lance Stephenson was strong as the sixth man with 11 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists, but the rest of the bench struggled.
The Granger/Stephenson dilemma seems to be leaning towards Stephenson off the bench — not because Granger is a better starter, but because Stephenson seems to be more effective off the bench and Granger is more used to starting. Jalen Rose apparently told Bill Simmons that he believes Granger is DONE being an elite player after watching the team closely during the recent Asia tour. If that is the case, he might not be a bad spot-up shooter, a fourth or fifth option who can provide some length on the defensive end on the first unit. With Scola anchoring the offense on the second unit, perhaps Granger might try to do too much as the sixth man and hurt the bench instead.
The Pacers won't have much time to rest. They head to Cleveland to take on the Cavs the next night.