Coming off a tough loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Chicago Bulls looked to bounce back with, yet again, a limited lineup. They did just that with a 93-76 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Kirk Hinrich (right elbow) and Joakim Noah (plantar fasciitis) both missed their second straight game while Carlos Boozer (hamstring) sat out for a third straight time.
Unlike the loss at Brooklyn, head coach Tom Thibodeau went with a starting lineup featuring Nate Robinson, Richard Hamilton, Jimmy Butler, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson, as opposed to Nazr Mohammed starting at center. And it seems to have been the right choice despite a slow start for both Chicago and Atlanta.
Both teams failed to score on their first few possessions, but the Bulls scored the first points of the game off of a layup by Taj Gibson with 10:27 minutes left in the first quarter. From there, Chicago continued to score and get out ahead of Atlanta. The Hawks did make their way back into the game making it 7-7 nearly four minutes into the game, but that was as close as the Hawks could get in the quarter. While Atlanta would only score ten more points, the Bulls finished with 24 points and a seven-point lead to close out the quarter.
Chicago’s lead remained for the majority of the second quarter as well, but it did not come easily. The Hawks found some offense to cut down the Bulls’ lead continually throughout the quarter which eventually led to their first lead. Atlanta’s Al Horford and Josh Smith got going in the second to contribute to the Hawks’ 27 point quarter while Chicago struggled to score.
For the quarter, the Bulls posted 19 total points, but shot 5-15 from the field. Marco Belinelli had a difficult time finding his own offense going 0-5 from the field in the second quarter alone. Fortunately for Chicago, Atlanta’s lead was only one at halftime, 43-44.
The third quarter’s start resembled the first quarter similarly. Each team traded a few misses, but the Bulls got the first points of the quarter after Butler made a pair of free throws. Those shots by Butler got Chicago’s offense going for the quarter. At the same time, the Hawks failed to find the bottom of the bucket for a few more possessions before they too scored.
Robinson got his offense going in the third going for 5-8 from the field assisting the Bulls in their highest-scoring quarter of 26 points. Atlanta’s own point guard Jeff Teague did well also with 75% shooting on 3-4 field goals, but Chicago defended well enough to hold the Hawks for 5-18 on field goals.
Heading into the final period, the Bulls were ahead 69-60, and they remained in front for the remainder of the game. The misses kept coming for Atlanta while Butler and Deng helped seal the victory for Chicago. The two players contributed to back-to-back-to-back threes that gave the Bulls a 15-point lead. Atlanta head coach Larry Drew eventually emptied his bench before Chicago could come away with the impressive 93-76 victory.
After resting for four seconds the night prior, Deng led the way for the Bulls with a double-double of 25 points and 14 rebounds to go along with 5 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. Gibson played all 48 minutes in the loss to Brooklyn making his double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds even more impressive. The double-doubles did not stop there though; Butler had 16 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Robinson posted a near double-double of 20 points and 8 assists.
The Bulls are now 29-18, and will continue their road trip on Monday February 4, as they face the Indiana Pacers in the rescheduled post-Christmas day game at 6 PM CT.