NBA Central Division Update: Pacers Keeping Pace
In the Central Division of the NBA, clearly the team to beat is the defending champion Chicago Bulls. The Bulls are off to a good start to the season. But the Indiana Pacers and Milwaukee Bucks are so far keeping them from getting away. Here are the results in the division so far:
Indiana is off to a 3-1 start. The Pacers opened up the season with a win over the Pistons on Dec. 26 91-79. Roy Hibbert had 16 points and Tyler Hansbrough had 15. Both men had double doubles as they corralled 14 and 13 rebounds respectively. David West also had a double double with 11 points and 12 boards. A couple of nights later, the Pacers went on the road and got a 90-85 win at Toronto. Danny Granger had 21 points and Paul George added 18 for the Pacers. On Friday the Pacers made it three in a row at home against the Cavaliers 98-91 in OT. Granger again led the Pacers with 22 points. The Pacers dropped their first contest of the season the night night against the Pistons.
The Pacers are led in scoring thus far by Granger at 17.5 points per game. Hibbert, Hansbrough and West also average in double figures. Hibbert is at 13.5, Hansbrough at 12.5 and West at 12.3 per game. They are led in rebounding by Hibbert at 10.5 and Hansbrough at 9.5 per game.
Chicago is tied with Indiana at 3-1. The Bulls started the year off on Christmas Day winning at thriller in Los Angeles over the Lakers. Luol Deng blocked a potential game winner from Kobe Bryant as the clock ran out to preserve the 88-87 win. The following night, the Bulls were no so lucky dropping one to the Warriors in Oakland 99-91. On Thursday, the Bulls won in Sacramento by 10, 108-98. Derrick Rose had 19 points and Carlos Boozer 16 for the Bulls. The next night the Bulls completed a Staples Center Sweep with a win over the Clippers 114-101. Rose had 29 points and 16 assists in the win for the Bulls.
The Bulls stat leaders are: Derrick Rose at 20.8 points per game, Luol Deng at 18.5 and also have Richard Hamilton, Boozer and Joakim Noah in double figures. Deng, Boozer and Noah average 7 rebounds per game.
Milwaukee was one made bucket away from a 3-0 start. They lost by one point on opening night to the Charlotte Bobcats in Charlotte 96-95. The next night the Bucks got into the win column against the Timberwolves in the home opener 98-95. Brandon Jennings had 24 points and 7 assists in the game. Then on Friday, the Bucks routed Washington 102-81. “Right now we should really be 3-0,” Jennings said. “We were up at halftime against Charlotte, and we lost a lead. And tonight we were up (24) at half and let a team come back. That is something we really need to focus on, especially going on a West Coast road trip. On the road in hostile environments you have got to be able to contain the lead and take over.”
The Cavs are off to a 2-2 start. Not bad considering their record a year ago. They lost their opener to the Toronto Raptors104-96. Two nights later they went on the road and beat the Pistons 105-89. Kyrie Irving 14 points and 7 assists in the win. After the loss on Friday to Indiana they beat the Nets on Sunday, 98-82. Antawn Jamison had 23 points and Irving had 13 for the Cavs.
The Pistons are bringing up the rear at 1-3. They got off to an 0-3 start losing to Indiana on opening night, then Cleveland and finally to the Celtics on Friday night 96-85. They followed that with the win on Saturday over the Pacers.