Before Monday's game, coach Tom Thibodeau was asked when Richard Hamilton might see extended playing time. In his first four games since returning from a monthlong injury absence, Hamilton played the first eight minutes or so of each half and no more.
"He's feeling great, which is the encouraging thing. He hasn't had any problems," Thibodeau said. "We'll play it by ear and see where we are."
It turns out, Thibodeau spoke too soon. Hamilton injured his right shoulder in a collision with Indiana center Roy Hibbert on one of the game's first possessions.
"Hopefully it's not as serious as it looked and we can get him back on the court, because he's definitely missed," said Ronnie Brewer, Hamilton's replacement. "The most important thing is we have him down the stretch healthy."
Hamilton grabbed at his shoulder while running down the court a few times, then checked out of the game after 1:23 had elapsed and headed straight to the locker room. The team didn't elaborate other than saying it's a right shoulder injury.
"He'll be examined tomorrow," coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. "At first, I thought it might be a stinger, but that wasn't the case. We'll have to wait until tomorrow."
Celebrate good times:
Much of the pregame talk Monday focused on Derrick Rose's vow to never forget the sight of the Pacers celebrating at the United Center following a Jan. 25 victory.
For starters, Joakim Noah cranked things up another notch with his comment after Sunday's win in Philadelphia.
"When people talk about celebration, I just feel like, 'You're not going to out-celebrate me.' (Pacers center) Roy Hibbert cannot out-celebrate me. So if they want to see some celebration when we win, I can show them some celebration ... I know how to celebrate."
Before Monday's contest, Hibbert wasn't sure what he did to be drawn into the conversation.
"Did you see that game? Did you see what we did after? Do you think we celebrated?" he said. "I don't know, man. Everybody's entitled to their opinion. He (Noah) could talk whatever he wants to talk. He's a good player, but we're focused on one thing, that's winning."
When coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if the Bulls and Pacers are now officially a rivalry, he reacted like the question had been posed in an unfamiliar language.
"That's you guys. I don't even know what you're talking about," Thibodeau said. "The rivalries, measuring sticks. I don't know what else you guys have. It's our next game, that's all I know."
Indiana coach Frank Vogel talked about how Monday's game was special because the Pacers aspire to be one of the best teams in the NBA.
"I don't think we're there yet. I think we're close," Vogel said before the contest. "I heard (ESPN analyst) Jeff Van Gundy say during the Spurs-Bulls telecast the other night, the thing about Oklahoma City and Chicago is they've brought it harder and more often than any team in the league."
Asked if he considers the Bulls the NBA's best team, Vogel replied, "I think you could call any of those three teams -- Oklahoma City, Miami or Chicago -- the best in the league."