Coming off two wins in a row, the Bulls looked to keep things going Wednesday night, taking on the Atlanta Hawks for the second time this week. After dropping their first game in Atlanta, this time the Bulls hosted the Hawks in Chicago, hoping to be above .500 at the end of the night.
Tonight, Hoiberg’s lineup was Grant, Wade, Butler, Gibson and Lopez. For the Hawks, it was their normal lineup: Schroder, Sefolosha, Bazemore, Millsap, and Howard. Starting off the game, the Bulls looked ready to pick up where they had left off in their previous game. They jumped out to an early lead, holding the Hawks to three points for the first four minutes.
Amidst rallies from Atlanta, the Bulls continuously responded to go up as much as 10 points as the 1st quarter winded down. Even after the Hawks put up a seven-point rally at the end of the quarter, the Bulls closed out with a quick six points to lead 29-22 after 12 minutes. Learning from the Bulls’ 1st quarter, the Hawks decided to up the ante offensively. They scored seven points in less than two minutes to start the 2nd.
By the six-minute mark in the quarter, the Hawks pulled into three points of the Bulls lead, 39-42. Again, the Bulls battled off a Hawks rally, outscoring them 17-9 to finish off the quarter. Chicago went into the half up 59-51, outscoring the Hawks 30-29 in the 2nd.As I have said about too many Bulls games this year, this one was a tale of two halves.
Despite Atlanta’s continuous persistence, the Bulls held off multiple rallies to stay up 10 halfway through the quarter. However, in less than two minutes, the Hawks went on a 9-2 run to pull within three points, and would tie on the next possession. The Bulls, barely hanging on, had one last gasp to outscore the Hawks by five points, leading 83-78.
Unlike previous quarters, the wheels finally began to fall off, as the Hawks would no longer be denied. Despite going up nine points early in the 4th and pushing their lead to 11 with just over five minutes in the game, they would completely collapse. Down 100-110 with three (yes, just three minutes left), the Hawks went on an abysmal 19-4 run to finish off the game and win 119-114. The Hawks scored eight points in the final minute, including six free-throws.
- To say Wade and Butler carried the team would be an understatement. Butler, who scored a game-high 40 points, was 13-22 from the field. Wade, who turned in a 33-point performance, was 14-24 from the field.
- The rest of the Bulls lineup from the field? 6-21 from the field, scoring 13 total points. While Taj Gibson grabbed 10 rebounds, there was nothing else to be satisfied with from the lineup. Surely, this performance will have Bulls fans particularly upset
- Off the bench, Mirotic continued to frustrate. Despite shooting 3-11 in 18 minutes, the worst part may have been his four fouls, which would add up to be a big difference maker in the end. Once again, Felicio added some needed help on the boards, racking up six in 20 minutes of action. Paul Zipser registered a quiet 23 minutes, with no field goals but two blocks.
- Not only did the Hawks get at least 15 points from each starter, but they also received 17 from Hardaway Jr. off the bench. After a shaky 1st quarter offensively, the group finished shooting over 51% on the night. Defensively, 13 turnovers and 20 fouls still gave the Bulls 26 opportunities at the line, where the Bulls shot 77%
- Understandably, Bulls fans will be upset at this untimely loss. After a “good Bulls, bad Bulls” narrative has seemed to follow them all season, a three-game win streak and over .500 record would be a big step in the right direction. Despite maintaining their composure for 45+ minutes, the final collapse showed that this team will need more consistency if to finish games out in the future.
- Up Next: The Bulls play host to Dwyane Wade’s former team the Miami Heat on Friday night.