INDIANAPOLIS — The Bulls dropped to 2-5 with a disappointing 108-95 loss to a shorthanded Pacers team that played without Victor Oladipo, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Here are three observations:

The Bulls didn’t play a smart game

Myles Turner is a shotblocker extraordinaire. Domantas Sabonis is a very physical player. Without both of them this afternoon, the Pacers started unheralded former Bull JaKarr Sampson at power forward and used former Bull (and usual small forward) Justin Holiday there in stretches.

Despite a size advantage, the Bulls only attempted six first-half free throws before beginning to attack more in the second half. They finished the third quarter with typically reliable Thad Young not knowing the clock was nearing the buzzer before rushing a desperation 3-pointer. And they began the fourth quarter by almost throwing away an inbounds pass under full-court pressure.

Defensively, the Bulls continued to trap certain screen-and-rolls well to the sideline, leaving multiple open 3-point looks for the Pacers. They tried to foul Sampson, a poor free-throw shooter, intentionally in the final 90 seconds but failed to do so, leading to a layup by Malcolm Brogdon.

The leaders need to step up

Coach Jim Boylen used a new rotation pattern in which Young replaced Lauri Markkanen after roughly four minutes in each half. Markkanen closed for the first time in three games, but he continued to struggle from 3-point range before beginning to attack the basket in the second half.


As for Zach LaVine, he finished with 21 points and six rebounds but Boylen pulled him briefly in the third quarter for seldom used Shaq Harrison. Boylen talked to a visibly frustrated LaVine as LaVine exited.

After looking like he’d kick start his season after a slow start with 22 points Friday night against the Pistons, Otto Porter Jr. missed his first nine shots and didn’t score until 5 minutes, 33 seconds left.

Is frustration setting in? Coby White missed all six shots and started to look timid, passing up open shots. Ryan Arcidiacono, who fouled out in 17 minutes, drew a technical foul.

The head-scratching statistics stacked up

The Bulls got outrebounded 49-43. They missed 11 of 25 free throws. They allowed T.J. Warren to score 26 points and T.J. Leaf to grab 15 rebounds.

The Bulls did force at least 15 turnovers for the seventh straight game. That hasn’t happened since February 2008. The Bulls entered fifth in turnovers forced and third in deflections, so the defense is on point when it’s not scrambling out of pick-and-rolls.

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