The biggest surprise Saturday night at the United Center wasn't the Bulls ruining Indiana's 9-0 start to the season.
Going back to last season when they snapped Miami's 27-game winning streak and beyond, the Bulls under Tom Thibodeau have been as good as any team at rising to the occasion in the regular season.
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The surprise was how dominating the Bulls were on offense. They shot 50.6 percent from the field, built a 33-point lead in the third quarter, and cruised to a 110-94 victory.
Indiana started the night leading the NBA in points allowed (83.7) and defensive field-goal percentage (.386) by wide margins. The Bulls went out and hung 60 points on the Pacers' defense in the first half.
"We were sharp," Kirk Hinrich said. "I think kind of the indecision, the second-guessing, is hopefully gone. It seemed like that was kind of the case, in my opinion, the first five or six games. We were kind of just second-guessing each other or second-guessing ourselves, and we just weren't playing as sharp."
During the 9-0 start, seven of Indiana's opponents shot 40 percent or below from the field -- usually well below 40 percent.
"I thought our guys played very unselfishly," Thibodeau said. "I thought we had a good rhythm for most of the game."
Luol Deng led the Bulls (5-3) with 23 points, while Derrick Rose led a long-range onslaught. Heading into this weekend, the Bulls were one of the league's worst 3-point shooting teams at 26.3 percent.
After knocking down 7 of 16 attempts from long range at Toronto, they drained 9 of their first 11 shots against Indiana. The Bulls ended up going 11-for-18 from behind the arc Saturday, led by Rose's 6-for-11.
"The shots they were giving me, they were going under screens," Rose said. "I don't know why they were doing that. I was just sitting behind (the screens) and shooting."
Rose didn't think there were any complicated reasons behind the Bulls' offensive breakthrough.
"We were just knocking down shots," he said. "All the other games we played in, my shots weren't falling. The only thing that changed tonight is we saw some go in, and I think that's all we needed."
Fans at the United Center were charged up, hoping to see Indiana's streak come to an end. The Bulls used an early 10-0 run to build a 15-5 lead and were never seriously threatened. After Hinrich and Rose combined to knock down 3-pointers on three straight possessions, the lead was 53-30 with 2:46 left in the first half.
"We were just trying to come out here and win the game. We really didn't talk about the streak or whatever," Rose said. "We lost to them last time (Nov. 6) and we were just trying to pay them back."
This result was predictable. But watching the Bulls obliterate the league's most dominant defense was a drastic change compared to how this season began.