Wednesday night at Phillips arena. The seats by no means packed, Dwight Howard won the tip, and Bulls basketball was on the air. After their strong outing against the Magic on Monday, the Bulls played the Atlanta Hawks in a battle of two eastern conference powerhouses. Jimmy Butler banged two threes to start off the Bulls scoring. After Butler drilled a wide open three, he had a little chuckle with Hawks small forward Kyle Korver, and in typical Stacey King fashion, he made the Kyle Korver hot sauce reference, only in favor of Butler. However, the rest of the game would not be so sweet for the visiting Bulls.
- Throughout the entire first quarter, the Bulls struggled against the three. The quarter was a complete seesaw. To say the game was going back and forth was an understatement. The only stat where the teams were separated was team rebounds. At around the two-minute mark of the first, the Hawks out-rebounded the Bulls eleven to four. Out of all players on the Hawks, Thabo Sefolosha was giving the Bulls fits in the first. He allowed the Hawks to finish the quarter strongly and opened up their lead to 35-27 after one. Jimmy Butler did finish the quarter leading the game with ten points. Both teams shot above fifty percent in the first, so it’s safe to think that this game was going to be a shootout.
- The second quarter began, and Sefolosha continued one his best offensive starts in a long time. Seven minutes in, the veteran had eighteen points and an absurd +12. The Hawks took full advantage of the surprise offense from Sefolosha. At the eight minute mark of the second, Atlanta led by a whooping sixteen points. As Atlanta continued to hold the large lead, Dwayne Wade was holding his own. Prior to missing a free throw, Wade hadn’t missed. He had seventeen points while shooting seven of seven from the floor. The Bulls continued to somewhat hang around, but their defense continued to very well below par. The Hawks did go on quite the dry spell towards the end of the first half, but still finished with a ridiculous sixty eight points. The silver lining was that the Bulls offense came alive towards the end of the half, and the shootout was very much alive. At the half the score was 68-61.
- Taj Gibson inbounded to Rajon Rondo to begin the third. The pace of the game continued to be rather fast paced, and the points kept coming in on both sides of the court. As a result, the players started to open up a bit. Robin Lopez committed pretty much a hard intentional foul on Dwight Howard, and as Dwyane Wade went in on the fast break, Kent Bazemore came in hard from behind. Clearly a foul, Bazemore had his eyebrows quite high as he barked at the officials. Meanwhile, the Bulls kept just clawing back into the game. On the fast break again, Wade hit a step back jumper to secure a temporary one-point lead for the Bulls. The Hawks went right back down and answered with an and-one by Dwight Howard, who at the time was approaching a double-double of eight points and eight boards. At the halfway mark of the third, the Bulls took a timeout at the 5:54 mark, with the score tied 78-78. The scoring continued to poor in, and the game continued to constantly go back and forth. The Hawks again finished the third again on a high note, and regained a six point lead and a buzzer-beater from Malcolm Delaney.
- Surprisingly, within the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, both teams started out rather cold to begin the fourth quarter. The waited till exactly two minutes in to get themselves on the board as they were able to get a steal and Wade threw down a dunk on the other end. Almost immediately after the dunk, Tim Hardaway Jr. drilled a three to give the Hawks another large lead and shimmied his way to the bench as the Bulls took a timeout. At the six-minute mark, Jimmy Butler hit a big mid-range jumper with the shot clock winding down to once again trim Atlanta’s lead. Which, if you haven’t been able to realize, had been the theme of the game. At the five-minute mark, the Bulls had cut the lead to two as Doug McDermott hit a nice running floater. Once again, the Bulls had made it a game. With thirty-six seconds to go, Atlanta led 111-103, and it seemed like the Bulls had thrown in the towel. FINAL SCORE: ATL: 115 CHI: 107
- As the Bulls again looked to be on the verge of tying, the Hawks extended their slim lead, by Thabo Sefolosha hitting a running floater. Sure, why not? The Bulls then went six straight possessions without scoring, and the Hawks went back up eight with just over two minutes to play.
- One of the major stats of the night was that the Hawks had fifty-two bench points, while the Bulls only had nineteen. Obviously this number of points is a bit extreme for a bench on a nightly basis, but it has to serve as a red flag. You simply cannot have your bench that is going to give up more than about thirty points. The bench just put the starters in a very tough position tonight. If the starters were able every minute in this game, the Bulls would have blown the Hawks out. The Hawks’ starters did just enough to scrap their sixth win of the year, and the Bulls fell to 4-4.
- Up Next: Wade makes his long awaited return to Miami tomorrow night, as the Bulls hope to right the ship against a struggling Miami side.