For the fourth consecutive game, the Atlanta Hawks left the floor on the losing end of a decision, as they fell to the Chicago Bulls 100-85 in the United Center on Tuesday night. Things went awry from the opening moments of the game, but even after a valiant spurt in the second half, the Bulls were able to run away and hide for the 15-point victory.
The opening half featured an utterly dominant display from the Bulls, both in the shooting department and on the glass. Chicago out-rebounded Atlanta by a 30-14 margin in the first 24 minutes, and in addition to that, knocked down a blistering 53% from the field and 50% (6-for-12) from beyond the arc in route to a 19-point lead. In fact, the Bulls led by as many as 27 in the opening half (after a 13-2 run made it 57-30), and it looked as if they would be able to sleepwalk through the remainder of the game.
The 3rd quarter was (easily) the best frame for the Hawks, and they made a significant run. All in all, Atlanta outscored Chicago 31-22 in the period, and an 18-4 run led by 9 points (including 7 straight) from Lou Williams brought the lead down to 8 at 78-70. From there, though, the Hawks would never get closer, as they missed 7 consecutive shots during the stretch drive before resigning themselves to the 15-point defeat.
Joakim Noah was the best player in the arena on Tuesday night, and the Bulls center took full advantage of the depleted Atlanta front-line. The former Florida Gator submitted his 4th career triple-double and finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists (plus 3 blocks) in the game. Not to be out-done was Taj Gibson, who stepped in for Carlos Boozer and put up one of his best outputs of the season with 24 points (including a run of mid-range jumpers that helped Chicago build their early lead) and 12 rebounds.
On the Hawks side, there were few individual bright spots. The aforementioned Lou Williams had his best statistical game in a while with 13 points and 4 assists, while DeMarre Carroll put up a solid defensive fight and finished with 11 points. Paul Millsap could never seem to get going from the floor, and he finished with just 6-for-15 shooting on the way to 15 inefficient points, while Jeff Teague shot the ball well (6-for-9), but never seemed to effect the game in a distinct way.
The final result was influenced greatly by the "energy" stats, and it is simply inexcusable to be dominated on the glass to the tune of a 57-28 margin. When you factor in that Chicago generated 17 offensive rebounds and dished out 30 assists on 43 field goals, this was not the defensive performance that Mike Budenholzer (or anyone else) would have liked to witness. There is something to be said for the way the Hawks fought in the second half, but as a whole, this was one of the more disappointing showings of the entire 2013-2014 season.