Loss to Pacers another reminder Bulls are a work in progress

SHARE Loss to Pacers another reminder Bulls are a work in progress
SHARE Loss to Pacers another reminder Bulls are a work in progress

INDIANAPOLIS — There was more than a hint of passion in Bulls coach Jim Boylen’s voice when he discussed one of his many stomping grounds back in his days as an assistant.

‘‘This is a tough franchise,’’ Boylen said of the Pacers. ‘‘I worked here. They instill toughness in guys. It’s a tough city. It’s a good city, and they like good basketball. It’s Indiana. There is something to that. It’s not just fairy dust. This is a basketball place.’’

The Pacers (42-23) are at a level Boylen wants to see the Bulls (18-47) reach, but they couldn’t do it Tuesday.

Thanks to a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter that more than erased a one-point deficit, the Pacers defeated the Bulls 105-96 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to complete a sweep of the season series.

It wasn’t exactly what Boylen was hoping for, especially because the Bulls had won five of their last seven games and, in his eyes, seemed to be establishing their own identity.

‘‘I think we’re kind of establishing the cornerstones of how we’re going to play, what we value,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘I think we have to get more consistency defensively. Offensively, the ball is moving, and we’re playing for each other pretty well on that end. But we’ve gotta bring the juice every night. We’ve gotta bring the determination at the defensive end of the floor.

‘‘We are establishing some things in a culture of competitiveness and togetherness and teamwork, but we’ve got to get better defensively. Gotta do it. We will. We will get better there.’’

The Bulls weren’t able to do it against a Pacers team that has lost injured guard Victor Oladipo for the season but still is getting it done by playing team basketball and solid defense.

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‘‘We lost because they were tougher than us in the fourth quarter,’’ Boylen said. ‘‘We didn’t have the grit and toughness in the fourth, and that’s where we’ve gotta grow. That’s the secret sauce in all of this.’’

That was something the Bulls weren’t about to dispute.

‘‘That’s what everybody should aspire to,’’ center Robin Lopez said of the Pacers’ team mentality. ‘‘Even without Vic, that’s a great team they’ve got there. They got it done, and we didn’t.’’

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 27 points, and Lopez added 20. Bojan Bogdanovic led five Pacers in double figures with 27 points.

Road back

According to Boylen, rookie swingman Chandler Hutchison (right foot) continues to make progress. And while there is no official timetable, the plan is to get him back before the season ends.

‘‘I think it’s coming,’’ Boylen said of Hutchison’s return. ‘‘I’m as optimistic as I’ve been about it. You can tell in this business when you look at a guy’s face. He’s got that look on his face like this thing is coming for him.

‘‘He participated in a little of our shell work [Monday], 10 minutes of sliding and getting in a stance. And he shot with the team. He’s not there yet, but he’s progressing. And we’re happy about that.’’

The Bulls selected Hutchison 22nd overall last June. He played in 44 games, starting 14 of them, and averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds before getting hurt.

Special gift

The Bulls and Advocate Children’s Hospital teamed up to bring Xavier Bradford, 14, to the game. Bradford flew on the team plane and had dinner with radio analyst Bill Wennington.

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