Down but not out. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE
The good news for Atlanta is that they are off on Thursday. The bad news is that another back-to-back looms on Friday and Saturday. The weight of a back-to-back-to-back combined with a quadruple-overtime contest appeared to finally catch up with the Hawks in losses to the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday and Chicago Bulls Wednesday night.
The Hawks fell to the Bulls 98-77 after starting fast but simply didn't have the defensive energy to hold off the hot shooting Bulls. Atlanta started quick enough leading by as many eight points in the opening quarter but saw that disappear as the Bulls outscored the Hawks 33-19 in the second.
Atlanta started strong again in the third quarter with a 10-2 run but simply didn't have the defensive energy to match the Bulls. If Chicago is scoring and has the time to set up its halfcourt defense then they are incredibly hard to beat even without Derrick Rose.
For the Hawks Josh Smith led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds but had a sub par shooting night going 8-21. Jeff Teague added 13 points and eight assists while Joe Johnson scored 12 points in 28 minutes of action. Johnson also had six assists. Marvin Williams pitched in 10 points off the bench.
Luol Deng led all scorers with 22 points and hit 5-8 three-point attempts. Chicago as a team made 9-16 and 7-8 from beyond-the-arc in the first half. Carlos Boozer finished with 20 points and nine boards while Taj Gibson added 19 and six off the bench. Chicago's bench was another strength of the Bulls as they outscored Atlanta's bench 37-23 and a lot of those points for the Hawks came late.
The scheduled certainly can't be used as an excuse and Larry Drew talked about that in the post game but it simply can't be ignored either. Not with the amount of injuries that this team has dealt with. I don't remember us highlighting this stretch of games before the season be we probably should have because a seven in nine day stretch is magnified now after already playing a significant portion of the schedule.