They reached the mark at the expense of a scuffling Central Division rival.
Paul George scored 21 points and the Pacers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Chicago Bulls 97-80 on Wednesday night for their best start to a season since they were an ABA team.
Indiana remained the NBA’s only undefeated team while the Bulls — despite having star point guard Derrick Rose back from injury — are off to their worst four-game start (1-3) in six years.
“We’re all disappointed,” Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We know we’ve got to do better. And we will.”
David West had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Lance Stephenson scored 15 for the Pacers, who outscored the Bulls 60-37 in the second half, including 34-18 in the fourth quarter behind 12 points from Stephenson.
“The fourth quarter is when you’re supposed to tire,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, whose team played in Detroit the night before. “I’m really proud of the effort.”
Rose and Luol Deng led Chicago with 17 points apiece and Kirk Hinrich had 12 points off the bench. Rose didn’t have an assist until the fourth quarter and finished with just two.
The Pacers won their first five games three times before joining the league in the NBA-ABA merger in 1976, starting 5-0 in 1967-68; 6-0 in 1970-71; and 5-0 in 1971-72 on the way to winning one of their three ABA championships.
They’ve managed to beat Orlando, New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago without Danny Granger, who hasn’t played a minute because of a calf injury. George Hill also sat out for a third straight game because of a sore hip.
The Pacers led by one going into the fourth but Stephenson hit two 3-pointers during a 10-0 run that gave them a 77-69 lead with 5:15 remaining.
After a timeout, Jimmy Butler’s 3 from the right corner halted the Pacers run but that was as close as the Bulls would come the rest of the game.
C.J. Watson’s triple gave Indiana an 11-point lead and it reached as high as 19 late.
Earlier, Watson scored all four of his first-half points during a 13-2 Pacers run in the first quarter. George’s 3-pointer gave Indiana a 17-11 lead.
The Pacers had a 25-19 edge at the buzzer but Chicago used a 16-2 run spanning the first and second quarters to pull in front. Deng and Taj Gibson had six points apiece during the surge and Rose hit a jumper to make it 33-27.
The Bulls held a 43-37 lead at halftime after outscoring the Pacers 24-12 in the quarter. George and West scored eight points apiece in the third quarter to help the Pacers take a 63-62 lead going into the fourth.
NOTES: The Bulls haven’t started this slow since going 0-4 in 2007 … The Pacers are off Thursday and will finish a stretch of four games in five days against Toronto on Friday and at Brooklyn on Saturday … Chicago was 1-3 against the Pacers last season without Rose.