The Atlanta Hawks recent struggles continued on Saturday night with a 91-84 loss to the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Saturday night was a frustrating night for the Hawks who struggled against Chicago's smothering defense.
Atlanta shot just 37 percent from the field in the game and made just 28 percent (8-28) of their three-point attempts. Factor in that Atlanta went 5-11 from deep in the first half but were just 3-17 in the second and 1-7 in the fourth when fatigue and Chicago's constant pressure fully started to set in.
Chicago beat up Atlanta on the boards 52-43 but struggled themselves including 20 offensive rebounds. However, the Bulls struggled to do much with the extra opportunities as they finished with just 18 second chance points. The Hawks finished with 17 offensive rebounds for 14 second chance points. The biggest difference came at the free throw line where the Bulls were 19-24 while the Hawks were just 12-14.
Atlanta played from behind throughout and made several runs at the Bulls but were just unable to get a big shot to go down when they needed it. Mike Scott pulled the Hawks to within 63-62 with a three late in the third quarter. Atlanta then had three straight opportunities to take the lead but came up empty every time.
The fourth quarter was more of the same. Scott tied the game with an old-fashioned three-point play early in the period but the Bulls came right back with five straight points including a three from Mike Dunleavy who killed the Hawks down the stretch.
"Mike Dunleavy really had a heck of a second half," Budenholzer said. "Some of them were really well-contested, tough, difficult shots, and give him credit for making them."
Things stayed nip and tuck until a pair of unfortunate calls went against the Hawks and gave the Bulls some cushion. First Kyle Korver appeared to have cut a five point Chicago lead to just two with 4:18 remaining but that basket was later waived off after a review indicated that it came after the shot clock had expired.
On the next possession DeMarre Carroll was called for an offensive foul on a three-point attempt for kicking his leg out despite the defender crashing into him. What could have been an 86-82 deficit with three free throws coming for Atlanta became 86-79 and gave Chicago the ball. The Hawks wouldn't seriously threaten again as the Bulls closed it out for the victory.
The Hawks have naturally struggled in the wake of Al Horford's season ending injury. Over the last couple of games its they have been in position but have not been able to grab the rebound, make a key basket or have committed an untimely turnover. Without Horford, this team has to be more detailed oriented than ever before because the margin for error simply isn't there. That is even more apparent against a good defensive team like the Bulls on the road.
- Paul Millsap had another tough night shooting the ball as he was the focus of Chicago's interior defense. Millsap finished 5-18 from the field and is just 8-32 in the last two games.
- I thought Jeff Teague played better than his 16 point, six assists, four turnover stat line suggests.
- Kyle Korver's tough shooting stretch continued with a 3-9 showing including 2-7 on threes. Korver finished with just eight points and has scored in double figures just once in the last five games.
- Pero Antic got his second start at center and finished with nine points and seven rebounds in just under 23 minutes. Antic went 3-8 from the field overall but was 3-5 from three-point range.
- Gustavo Ayon, Cartier Martin and Dennis Schröder received DNP-CD's
- Hawks vs Bulls final score: Chicago outmuscles Atlanta in 91-84 win
- Warriors vs Hawks: Mike Budenholzer, Pero Antic respond to Andre Iguodala's game winner
- Warriors vs Hawks final score: Andre Iguodala's game-winner sinks Atlanta
- Monthly Progress Report: December
- Hawks should stand pat in wake of Al Horford injury