Told that Bulls forward Taj Gibson said, ‘‘There’s a lot of floppers’’ on the Pacers, center Roy Hibbert relayed the message to forward David West.

‘‘That’s who said it, D-West! Taj called us floppers,’’ Hibbert said. ‘‘I haven’t taken a charge in probably four years. He’s entitled to his opinion. I’m just going to play hard.’’

Gibson took his shot after the Bulls’ 91-79 loss Friday at Indiana.

‘‘He’d just gotten a couple of fouls, so he probably was a little frustrated,’’ Hibbert said. ‘‘Chicago is a terrific team. They always bring it. They play extremely hard, so that raises our level of competition, too.’’


The roles have been reversed a bit since things started heating up between the Bulls and Pacers in the 2011 playoffs.

Now the Pacers, who lead the Eastern Conference, are on top, and the Bulls are one of the teams hoping to beat them in the playoffs.

Still, coach Tom Thibodeau dismissed the notion of a growing rivalry.

‘‘You can’t allow your emotions to get in the way of getting the job done,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘I think you [media] guys are into the rivalry. We know they’re good. To beat a good team, you have to play well. I think the focus has to be on the things that are necessary to win.’’

Center Joakim Noah acknowledged emotions are involved, though.