Don't get me wrong, Tyler Hansbrough had been a beast in the last three games while David West has been out with a back injury, but tonight's 87-84 loss against the Bulls shows why the Pacers still need their rock.
Hansbrough only had 7 points and 6 rebounds tonight, snapping his double-double streak at 3 games, and looked foolish at times on the defensive end against, yikes, Carlos Boozer and his newly replenished hairline.
Paul George had that look in his eye tonight like he was going to go nuts, and he did have 23 points and 11 rebounds, but he missed a couple of threes in the dying seconds that could have sent the game into overtime. That said, the Pacers didn't even deserve to be in that position because they wouldn't have been had George Hill not made a couple of huge three pointers (including a four-point play) when the game appeared to have been out of reach already.
Roy Hibbert had 18 and 12 because Joakim Noah was out, and Lance Stephenson had 10 (including a couple of nice coast-to-coasts) but was clobbered badly on a flagrant 2 by Nate Robinson on a fast break.
It's not going to be easy for the Pacers to hold on to the number 2 spot, or finish with 50 wins for the season. Taking a look at their remaining schedule, they still have matches left against Oklahoma City and the Clippers, plus games against Brooklyn, New York and Boston. The seedings might not be set until the final day of the regular season.
Next up, a must-win against the Hawks at home before the final extended West coast road trip of the season.