The Atlanta Hawks completed the four game season series sweep of the Chicago Bulls with a 102-100 victory at the United Center.
The Bulls were led by Derrick Rose’s 20 point performance and Pau Gasol’s double-double — 19 points and 11 rebounds. Not to talk too much about the Bulls — with this being a Hawks page and all — but this was a crushing blow for the Bulls and their playoff hopes. They sit 2.5 games adrift of the Pistons — tied now with the Washington Wizards for ninth in the east — for the eighth seed with just nine games remaining. Not good. Anyways…
A nervy ending, but a solid win
Boy, the Hawks sure know how to make you nervous. The Hawks seemed to have control of this game in the fourth quarter — up 13 with 8:37 remaining in the fourth. But the Bulls had other ideas…
The two guard lineup of Rose and Brooks caused some issues in the fourth quarter. They combined for 16 points and combined for a +/- rating of plus- 15. Teague guarded Brooks, and Korver was — for some reason — left to guard Rose and that didn’t go so well. Aaron Brooks also made some ridiculous plays in the fourth quarter and he really brought the crowd back into the game.
What was impressive about this win was how the Hawks were able to get this job done despite the nature of the beast they had to deal with last night. They were on the road and they were playing a team who are desperate right now, they’re desperate for victories as their playoff hopes hang in the balance. This, added to the Bulls’ fourth quarter charge and getting the crowd back into the game, made this win an impressive one.
“…To close out a close game, even with a couple of mistakes, and still find a way to win a close game…”
“…They are a very physical team. It’s a good win on the road.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
The Hawks weathered the Bulls’ fourth quarter storm, got some stops down the stretch, and put themselves in a position to secure the victory with a 98-93 lead with just 22 seconds left. You would’ve thought this would be a safe enough lead for the Hawks, and a stop would all but finish the game. But Paul Millsap bit on a Jimmy Butler pump fake, Butler drew the contact from Millsap, and made a three-point shot plus the foul.
“He (Coach Bud, I assume) didn’t want him to ball-fake and jump into me. Bonehead play. Maybe a little carry over from getting him the other night. Can’t have those type of plays toward the end of the game.” — Paul Millsap
The play was something that Coach Mike Budenholzer thought might happen, and lamented the error.
“The four-point play, we actually talked about what might happen. It was very close to that. They still got us on a pump fake, made the shot, made the free throw. When you are up five, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes. That’s the one that really stands out the most.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague iced the game with clutch free throws, as the Hawks held on to win. Korver acknowledged that the Hawks probably should’ve put away the Bulls sooner than they did, but were able to hold on.
“…To battle back (from 13 points down), we had a pretty comfortable lead there, we probably should have done a better job of putting them away. They have a lot of talented players over there. They made a nice run. But we were able to hold on. Those are the things you have to be able to do in the playoffs.” — Kyle Korver
Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder causing issues
Jeff Teague and Dennis Schröder created all sorts of issues for the Bulls last night. Their speed and penetration created all sorts of problems for the Bulls. The two point guards combined for 26 points in the paint — 26 of the Hawks’ 44 PITP. Rose and Brooks could not stay in front of Teague and Schröder, and the bigs who guarded them on switches didn’t fare well either. Time and time again they were able to get to the rim at will.
Jeff Teague said that their pace played into the Hawks’ hands.
“We played with a lot of pace tonight. It played into our hands, playing a little faster. Those guys have so many big guys and we were able to get in the paint and make plays.” — Jeff Teague
Coach Bud, again, mentioned how Teague and Schröder — when they play well — open things up for the Hawks.
“Those two guys attacking, that’s when we are at our best and it frees up the other things around those two…” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Despite his 14 point performance, however, Dennis Schröder didn’t have the greatest game. He took some bad shots, and finished with a +/- rating of minus+12 — a team low.
Jeff Teague, however, was fantastic last night. We even got some Teague Time in the third quarter. Teague scored 12 straight points in the third period and finished with a game high 26 points. As always when conducting post game interviews, Teague didn’t have much to say about his performance.
“Just being aggressive. Just trying to get it going and make some shots.” — Jeff Teague
Come on, Jeff, give yourself some credit.
Overcoming another double digit deficit
The Hawks have become somewhat good at this, this season. Eleven times this season (mostly coming after the All-Star break) have the Hawks erased a double digit deficit and have gone on to win the game. The Bulls went up 13 in the second quarter but, behind a 26-6 run, the Hawks flipped the game on its head and took a seven point lead into the half. Coach Bud called the second quarter — in which the Hawks outscored the Bulls 30-14 — the difference in this game.
“After the first quarter, which I think was as much about them as they came out on both ends of the court with activity and energy, and whether that first storm and grind our way through the second quarter. That second quarter was probably the difference in the game…” — Coach Mike Budenholzer
Kyle Korver said that the Hawks knew the Bulls would come out with a sense of urgency, as their season hangs in the balance.
“We knew they were going to come out and throw a big punch early. Their season is on the line and we heard they had a big meeting yesterday. They came out and really got on us early…” — Kyle Korver
This fighting spirit from the Hawks and refusal to go down easy will really stand to them in the playoffs. They’re showing all the right signs as the post season beckons.
Rapid fire facts/observations
Let’s do this.
- After registering a 12 assist, zero turnover night against Detroit, Jeff Teague dished out another seven assists and did not register a turnover. That’s now 19 assists and zero turnovers in his last two games. Amazing
- The Hawks have turned the ball over just 12 times in the last two games.
- Thabo Sefolosha didn’t attempt a single field goal in 22 minutes of action last night. He did, however, finish with two points which came from crucial free throws in the fourth quarter.
- Al Horford looked very uncomfortable behind the three-point line last night — as did other Hawks. Horford in particular was reluctant to shoot the three-pointer when he was open, and it seemed to be contagious as other Hawks also showed reluctance. Horford did not attempt a three-pointer last night.
- The Bulls attempted 20 more shots (105 FGA to ATL’s 85) than the Hawks attempted last night. Part of this was because the Bulls grabbed 18 offensive rebounds last night — leading to 19 second chance points. Normally when a team shoots 20 more times than you, you’re in trouble. The Hawks dodged a bullet last night in that regard.
- The Hawks need just one more victory to secure a playoff berth. However, according to someone on Twitter (I can’t remember where I saw it or who tweeted it), if the Wizards lose to the Warriors tonight then the Hawks will clinch their spot in the post season. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know the magic number for the Hawks is just one.
Bulls Quotes (there wasn’t any good quotes from the Bulls’ camp last night but you can read some here if you want, via the Chicago Tribune)