Hawks Fall to Bulls

Wednesday, April 2, 2014
By Robby Kalland

Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks (32-42) got off to a hot start against the Bulls (43-32), but after a 31-point first quarter Chicago’s defense locked down on their way to a 105-92 victory. DJ Augustin led Chicago’s offense with 23 points and five assists, and sparked the Bulls second quarter run with 14 points to help Chicago take an eight point halftime lead.

Hawks vs. Bulls
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The Hawks, who have been out-rebounded by an average of 19 boards per game against the Bulls this season, did well on the glass and actually had a 38-37 rebounding advantage. While the Hawks kept the Bulls off the boards, live-ball turnovers negated the Hawks quality rebounding performance as they had 16 turnovers (13 live-ball) for 21 Chicago points.

“I think we had a lot of unforced turnovers,” Lou Williams said. “I had five turnovers myself, which is uncharacteristic of how I play. I don’t really make a lot of high-risk plays. I think on two or three of them I just handed them the ball. I just had a lot to do with us not taking care of the basketball.”

Joakim Noah did a little of everything for the Bulls, with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and two steals. Carlos Boozer added 12 points and six rebounds as the starter next to Noah, while Taj Gibson closed the game out on the floor with 10 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Chicago as a team shot the ball extremely well going 40-of-78 from the field (51.3%) and 12-of-25 from the three-point line (48%). Augustin led the three-point barrage going 4-of-8 from beyond the arc and Tony SnellMike Dunleavy, and Jimmy Butler added two makes a piece. Coach Bud said that against the Bulls the focus is on protecting the paint and keeping them off the offensive glass, and in doing so the Bulls were able to get some open looks from three, which they took full advantage of.

The Hawks cooled off significantly after a red-hot first quarter where they shot 66.7% from the floor and 83.3% from three. After the first quarter Atlanta shot just 40% for the final three quarters, and made just 3-of-17 from the three-point line. Kyle Korver made four of the Hawks eight three-pointers including three in the first quarter for nine of his 12 points.. The Bulls focused more on sticking with Korver rather than helping off of him, and in doing so, limited his opportunities.

The Hawks got a great contribution from Paul Millsap who put up 22 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists on 8-of-17 shooting against the tough defensive frontcourt of Chicago. Jeff Teague finished with 21 points and eight assists, and after dominating the first three quarters, he was held scoreless in the fourth as the Bulls defense got locked in.

“They’re a good defensive team,” said Millsap. “I felt like we started off moving the basketball well, and kinda slowed down and took a few bad shots. That’s where the focus comes in; staying with it and continuing to do what we did in the first quarter, but we didn’t do that.”

The Hawks got a nice contribution from Mike Muscala off the bench. Moose had a career-high eight points (50% shooting) and three rebounds, and moved well on the defensive end. Elton Brand also gave the Hawks a nice effort with eight points and five boards. The rest of the Hawks bench struggled going 4-for-13 from the field for 13 points.

The Hawks loss, coupled with a Knicks blowout win over the Nets, moves the Hawks into a tie with New York for eighth in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks have a percentage point lead on the Knicks because they have one fewer loss, and the Hawks have seven games remaining on their schedule while the Knicks will play six more. The next game for the Hawks will be on Friday night when the Cavaliers come to Atlanta.

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Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

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