Bulls find a new way to drop a close game to the Pacers Wednesday night

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 6: Victor Oladipo #4 of the Indiana Pacers drives to the basket against the Chicago Bulls on December 6, 2017 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – Look on the bright side, they’re doing everything they were expected to do, need to do, and they’re making it happen with unique flair every night.

The Bulls made it close on Wednesday on the road against the Pacers, a team that is rebuilding in their own way but are four steps ahead of their visitors in that process. It went down to the wire, they had a chance to win, and it didn’t happen.

This was the case last week in Denver last Thursday. Then against the Kings at the United Center the following night. The Cavaliers were the Cavaliers in a dominating performance and then the Bulls reverted back to their recent endings at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Now they are 3-20 on the season after a 98-96 win which came thanks to a layup and free throw by Victor Oladipo then a miss on a potential game-winning three-pointer by Lauri Markkanen. It’s another step on their journey to a high draft pick that was desired and expected from a hallowed out roster.

Yet this loss to the Pacers Wednesday took a different feel. For once, it shouldn’t have ended the way it did for the Bulls. This looked to be a reprieve from a frustrating month-and-a-half of losing to let in a little hope for the young group.

Finally Fred Hoiberg got a sustained strong start to the game as the Bulls led by 10 after the first quarter and then six at the break. The offense and defense were working efficiently without the letdowns that have plagued them a number of times throughout the season, and it continued into the fourth quarter as David Nwaba’s jumper with 8:59 left put the Bulls up 89-74.

Then something unexpected – a collapse. Frankly, that’s because the Bulls haven’t had a lead big enough to warrant the use of the word this year.

What was supposed to be a rare evening in a positive way turned negative. For the rest of the game the Pacers outscored the Bulls 22-7, finally grabbing the lead on Oladipo’s three-pointer with 31 seconds left. Then it looked like a loss most fans in Chicago were accustomed to this season, as Kris Dunn and Markkanen each missed chances to pull the Bulls ahead in the final seconds.

Alas, another in the many losses for the Bulls this season. But tonight could have been different, that what makes it a big more painful to swallow in an already long season.