Bulls 76, Hawks 74
CHICAGO — Home court advantage does crazy things to a team’s energy and the United Center is a huge reason the Bulls were able to comeback from 19 down to beat the Atlanta Hawks 76-74 Tuesday at the United Center.
It was a defensive meltdown to start the game and it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Bulls really came around. After being down 19 in the third quarter, it took Chicago just one quarter to erase that deficit and win the game. It all came down to the wire when with less then five seconds left, Joakim Noah went not to Derrick Rose but to Luol Deng on a beautiful backdoor pass that put the Bulls up two with around three seconds left in the game.
Rose said post game that the Bulls worked on that play all day in practice and it showed when they ran it. The Hawks bit on Rose being the shooter, leaving a lane open for Deng to run inside and score.
Derrick Rose deserves a lot more credit then simply being the decoy on a game winning play. He scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter for the Bulls showing off his flashy closing skills in a huge spot.
“We just had one of those games.” Rose said.
Someone who had an extraordinary game was Omer Asik. It seems every game for the Bulls someone from the Bench Mob steps up and tonight it was Asik’s turn to shine. He played a total of 28 minutes racking up 9 rebounds and blocking 3 shots. Taj Gibson also stepped up playing 24 minutes and combined with Aisk, the Bulls were plus-27 with those two big men on the court.
“We didn’t start running until midway through the third quarter.” said head coach Tom Thibodeau. “I thought Taj and Omer came in and gave us a lot of energy.”
Kyle Korver rounded out the massive Bench Mob production on the first night this season they were without General C.J. Watson. Korver played 29 minutes but only managed 2 points. Although his performance was underwhelming, Chicago posted a plus-18 with him on the hardwood.
The game was sluggish though and the Bulls narrowly escaped with the win. Atlanta was up 19 at one point in the third quarter and the productive duo of Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer form Sunday were noticeably flat out of the gate. Boozer finished with 11 points and Brewer with just 4.
“It was disappointing how we started. It felt like we were playing a low energy game.” Thibodeau said. “In the first half as a team we were just backwards. Shooting when we were passing, passing when we were shooting.” Thibodeau also noted the he thought Boozer improved as the night went on but expects more out of him moving forward.
Rose saved the night but the fact of the matter is the Bulls shot just 33 percent from the field tonight. Their massive fourth quarter surge hosted those numbers but they still went down to the wire with, albeit a really good Hawks team, but a Hawks team that played a high energy game last night and had to travel to Chicago for this game.
To end on a high note, the Bulls saw good production out of Luol Deng for another night. His consistency despite the up and down play on the court as a whole is something fresh and something to hold onto. It’s now not just Rose Bulls fans can count on to pull them up when they’re down, Deng is a guy that can be leaned on as well. He demonstrated that not only via his 21 point performance, but by getting the ball in a game winning spot.
Chicago travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons tomorrow night.