INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Even in the midst of their worst month of the season, the Indiana Pacers are finding ways to win big games.
On Friday night, the Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls 91-79 to take a 13-game lead on the Bulls in the Central Division. The Pacers have won five of their last six games after losing four straight earlier this month — the team's worst skid of the year.
The win couldn't come at a better time.
"In the NBA, a week looks like an eternity, so it feels like we haven't been playing great in a while," Luis Scola said. "We needed it. We needed the confidence and we also needed the win."
Scola had 19 points off the bench and Lance Stephenson finished with 15 for the Pacers (51-18), who went on a 19-0 run in the third quarter.
Carlos Boozer was called for a Flagrant 1 foul with 7:31 left in the third, Roy Hibbert made two free throws and Stephenson made a basket to give the Pacers a 63-45 lead.
DJ Augustin and Jimmy Butler each scored 17 points for the Bulls (38-31), who have lost two of their last three.
The win also gave Indiana a 2-1 series lead over the Bulls. The Pacers will visit Memphis on Saturday and then Chicago on Monday before they host Miami on Wednesday.
Paul George, who finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, also made a basket and dunked, David West scored twice and Stephenson made a basket, a dunk and converted a three-point play to help the Pacers pull away in the big run in the third quarter.
"I'm very proud of the team approach and the willingness to share the basketball and move the basketball," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I think we did remind ourselves of who we are tonight."
Vogel's main point of emphasis heading into the game was sharing the ball. Indiana finished with 27 assists.
The Bulls went on a 7-0 run early in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough.
Joakim Noah scored a basket, Augustin made two free throws, Butler made another and Mike Dunleavy scored to make it 77-69 with 9:30 remaining. Scola scored to end the run and give Indiana a 79-69 lead.
Augustin made a layup, but Scola scored again and later made a layup and a free throw to give the Pacers an 84-71 lead with 4:27 remaining.