Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks: Instant Analysis of Chicago’s Epic Collapse

Jan 25, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) dunks the ball against Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) during the second half at the United Center. Atlanta defeats Chicago 119-114. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 25, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) dunks the ball against Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) during the second half at the United Center. Atlanta defeats Chicago 119-114. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Bulls played against the Atlanta Hawks for the second time in the past week, and they led the entire game until the end of the fourth. A 19-4 run by the Hawks gave them another win against Chicago and marked one of the ugliest collapses for the Bulls in recent memory.

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The Chicago Bulls lost to the Hawks again after blowing a 12-point fourth quarter lead, 119-114.

Dwyane Wade had 33 points on 14-24 shooting.

Jimmy Butler hit multiple stepback 3-pointers and also carried Chicago throughout, finishing with 40.

Every Hawks starter finished with at least 16 points.

All of these stories are good notes from tonight’s loss to Atlanta, but the biggest news came from Rajon Rondo.

He hit a free throw!

Shockingly, Rondo had not attempted a free throw in over a month (since December 16th), and the veteran guard had not actually made one since December 6th. So naturally, him finally breaking his one month streak of attempting (and making) a free throw is what the big takeaway is.

Alright, alright; I’m just kidding. But that stat has to be one of the most random “streaks” I’ve ever heard.

Here is your quarter-by-quarter analysis of Chicago’s loss to the Hawks!

First Quarter

The Bulls, shockingly, actually started the game well; Chicago held the Hawks scoreless through the first three minutes, and on offense everybody was moving and passing crisply until there was an open man.

Of course, with Chicago, a lot of open shots miss, but that’s what being the top offensive rebounding team in the league is for… to grab those misses and then convert easy looks up close.

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Dwyane Wade kicked off the Bulls highlight reel when he hit a beautiful and-one shot after faking out the Hawks defender with a hesitation move. Furthermore, a couple of possessions later he forced a steal and got the dunk on the fast break. He didn’t look like vintage “Flash” (he barely even dunked the ball), but we’ll take it.

Defensively, the Bulls were playing well, and although Thabo Sefolosha was on fire (he scored 10 in the first), they had four steals in the first seven minutes.

The quarter ended with back-to-back 3-pointers for Chicago; a deep-range bomb from Nikola Mirotic and a stepback from Jimmy Butler.

Chicago led 29-22 at the end of the first.

Second Quarter

The second quarter was much like the first: domination from Wade and Butler.

Both players were hot throughout, but Wade was really feeling it, and he was getting the looks he wanted. Whether that was in the post, in the paint, or from beyond the arc, Wade was hitting just about everything. At one point, he had 15 points on 7-9 shooting.

The Hawks, despite continuously turning the ball over, played well as well. Dennis Schroder had another strong start against the Bulls, and when he got in the paint it spelled trouble for Chicago. Schroder would either finish himself, throw the lob to Dwight Howard or kick it out to one of their 3-point sharpshooters.

Butler and Wade closed out the quarter with a couple of nice shots, and the Bulls led 59-51 at the half.

Third Quarter

The third started off well for Chicago when Schroder picked up two quick fouls, quickly placing him in foul trouble with four total. A couple of minutes later, Jerian Grant hit a pull-up 3-pointer to give the Bulls a 70-58 lead with 6:00 left in the quarter.

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At this point in the game, the Bulls success came from running the fast break (14 points) and not turning the ball over (only three in the game at this point). However, despite these positives, the Bulls entered a bit of a slump in the middle of the quarter, and an 11-0 run by the Hawks cut the lead to 70-69.

Fortunately for Chicago, Atlanta never took their first lead of the game, and Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls to end the third by scoring seven straight, including a stepback 3 at the buzzer to give Chicago a 83-78 lead.

Fourth Quarter

Crunch time, baby! The past couple of the seasons, the Bulls have had trouble finishing games strongly, but tonight things… stayed the same.

Other than the ugly play from Niko to start the quarter (a couple of crazy threes and poor turnovers; you know, the usual), the Bulls started off pretty well. The beginning, middle, and end consisted of Wade and Butler just taking turns scoring the basketball.

Both stars truly dominated, and you could see they were both having a blast together. Wade hit a jumper and got the foul. Butler followed with a pull-up. Then Wade hit a mid-range. Immediately afterwards, Butler (off a pass from Wade), hit a 3-pointer and got the foul as well. Then Butler hit another pu… you get the point.

The score was 110-100, Chicago leading with three minutes remaining. And this is where the choking began. The Hawks were fueled by three consecutive 3-pointers, and they quickly cut the lead down to 110-109 with 1:43 to go.

Butler hit one final clutch shot, but it wasn’t enough. Niko missed a contested three with 26 seconds left (don’t ask me why), and the Bulls collapsed on a 19-4 run by the Hawks.

The final score was 119-114, Atlanta. The sudden turnaround was crazy and disappointing to see; unfortunately, though, it wasn’t surprising.

The Bulls play their next game on Friday night against the Miami Heat.