The Hawks were going to be in rough shape from a health perspective regardless of how many overtimes were played Friday, with John Collins (flu), Omari Spellman (ankle) and Taurean Prince (personal) all unavailable for Sunday afternoon’s affair.
Lloyd Pierce ran out a lineup of Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon and Alex Len in light of the inactives.
The Bulls started Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, Timothé Luwara-Cabarrot, Lauri Markkanen and Robin Lopez.
The visitors started the game on a 12-5 run with Len being very effective with nine early points (he scored two more shortly after this clip ends).
alex len is going to work early.— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 3, 2019
has 7⃣ of our 9⃣ points. pic.twitter.com/qSpCquVih6
To the surprise of no one, Young was also scoring early.
The Bulls were able to catch up from there with a 15-8 run of their own that was largely powered by the scoring of Dunn and Lopez.
Double technical fouls were assigned to Dunn and Young in a minor altercation that may have spawned from the 49 points Young hung on the Bulls Friday night.
I think Dunn is tired of getting scored on. pic.twitter.com/fd3un6sLwF— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 3, 2019
Coming out of the break, the Hawks got a few buckets from unusual suspects in Jaylen Adams and fresh addition B.J. Johnson, who was making his debut with the club.
Adams hit three three-pointers on four attempts with an assist and two rebounds while Johnson scored five points of his own, fueling the Hawks on a 16-7 run to take an eight-point lead in the closing moments on the first.
9 points. 3-4 from the field.— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 3, 2019
jaylen adams is cooking. pic.twitter.com/RFyDtEfVCV
Jaylen to Dewayne for the best kind of basket. pic.twitter.com/7o1lGkhR5A— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 3, 2019
The Hawks were poised to take a nice lead into the second, but DeAndre’ Bembry fouled Ryan Arcidiacono 50 feet from the basket on a last second desperation heave with 0.5 seconds left in the quarter. He made all three free throws to cut the Hawks’ lead back to three.
The Bulls cut it to one opening up the second before Len hit another three to push the lead back to four. Len ran his first-half point total up to 14 in the waning moments with just under fifteen minutes into play.
Alex Len got the start and he has 1️⃣4️⃣ points in just 10 minutes played. pic.twitter.com/hUZ8syLYDm— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 3, 2019
The Hawks lead hung around the three to six point range for most of the the first chunk of action in the second before threes by Johnson and Carter extended the lead to seven. Moments later, following a Hawks stop, Young was able to draw a foul in transition off the Bazemore outlet. The rookie point guard made both free throws to put the Hawks up 53-44, their biggest lead so far in the contest.
The lead jumped to 12 after another Hawks stop that led to Young finding Len for a walk-in three-pointer, giving him 17 points for the half (3 for 5 from three-point-range). Young hit a three of his own that pushed the lead back to 11 following a mini 4-0 Chicago run that had cut it to eight, but the Bulls fired back with another mini 5-0 run following the three, cutting it back to six (59-53) prompting a Lloyd Pierce timeout with just over three minutes to play before the half.
❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 3, 2019
A 4-0 Atlanta run out of the timeout pushed the lead back to double digits, with the Hawks reaching 63 points with over two minutes to play in the second quarter.
The Hawks closed the half with a 67-60 lead. Leaders for the Hawks at the break included Len (17 points, four rebounds, one block), Young (12 points, four assists, two rebounds), Adams (nine points, two assists) and Johnson (eight points, one steal, one rebound).
Dunn (12 points, four assists) and Lopez (10 points, 5 for 5 from the floor) led the way for Chicago.
The Hawks shot 11 for 21 from the three-point-line as a team in the first half.
Young opened up the second-half scoring with a three-pointer from the wing to push the Atlanta lead back to ten.
Trae ➡️ Baze ➡️ Len ➡️ Trae pic.twitter.com/206tO0ljMG— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 3, 2019
Young hit another three from (roughly) 35 feet then immediately got ejected for receiving a taunting technical, his second technical foul of the game, which warrants an automatic ejection. It was very unfortunate, as Young was possible off to another ridiculous performance; he was up to 18 points and five assists just a few minutes into the third. The short-handed Hawks are forced to make do with yet another casualty, but did have a 15-point lead to work with after the Markkanen technical free throw made it 78-63 in favor of Atlanta.
Trae Young has been ejected. pic.twitter.com/DfNY1TOxTf— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 3, 2019
The Bulls chiseled the Hawk lead to seven in the ensuing moments, with the Atlanta offense predictably grinding to a halt without its engine. LaVine scored to get it down to five at one point before Poythress hit a three to push it back to eight at 88-80 in favor of the visitors. LaVine immediately responded with a three-point play to cut it back to five, making the score Bulls 20, Hawks 10 since the Young ejection earlier in the quarter. Adams hit a three to push it back to 93-85 moments before a Pierce timeout at the two minute mark in the third.
Johnson hit his third three of his NBA debut coming out of the break to push the margin back to 11 for the guests, with the offense picking up some steam with he and Adams in the absence of Young (and Collins and Prince and Spellman).
OUR BENCH IS BEING VERY PRODUCTIVE TODAY pic.twitter.com/TQYjjuulWS— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) March 3, 2019
The Bulls fired back with a 6-0 spurt to end the third, getting back within five entering the final period. Hawks 96, Bulls 91 going to the fourth.
Bembry was active early in the fourth, getting to the line twice (making 3 of 4) and picking up a blocked shot in the opening moments of the fourth.
Following a Dedmon bucket and a stop for the Hawks, Huerter banged home a three to get the lead back to 11, making it an 8-2 run to open the period. The lead was down to eight when Poythress hit his second three of the game (No. 19 for the Hawks as a team) to push it back to 11 with a little over eight minutes to play.
What do you like more: Kevin Huerter's pass or Alex Poythress' three? pic.twitter.com/RPSkQxFNcS— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) March 3, 2019
The Bulls out score Atlanta 5-0 over the next 1:45 prompting a Pierce timeout as the lead was cut back to six. Despite the game never truly being out of reach for the Bulls, the Hawks led the way to this point, with only two lead changes in the entire game and none since the first quarter with 6:15 to play in the fourth.
Bazemore hit a three off a long offensive rebound coming out of the timeout, giving the Hawks a nine point lead and their 20th three-pointer. Len hit a three on the next possession, putting the Hawks only one three-pointer shy of their franchise record of 22 with over five minutes remaining.
The Bulls kept firing back on the offensive end but were unable to defend the Hawks, as Bazemore got inside for easy layups on back-to-back possessions to keep the Hawks out in front.
Antonio Blakeney was hot in the period for the hosts, hitting a three to cut it to just five with under four minutes to play, giving him 17 points off of the bench in the contest.
The Bulls cut it to one with a LaVine free throw before Huerter put the Hawks back up three with a tough floater with under a minute to play.
With the Hawks still up three with 15.7 seconds remaining on the clock, Huerter missed two free throws to give the Bulls a crack at sending the Hawks to their third straight game that included overtime, dating back to Wednesday vs. Minnesota.
The Bulls were unable to tie the game on the ensuing possession, sending Bazemore to the line, where he missed the first free throw as well before making the second to make it 121-117 effectively icing the game. Len ended up making two more free throws (on four attempts) to push his season-best performance even higher.
The Hawks finished one shy of their franchise record for three-pointers made, with 21 hits on 42 attempts.
Len led the way for the depleted Hawks with 28 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, while the Hawks bench did a ton of heavy lifting and got some key support from unexpected players. Johnson shined in his NBA debut, notching 11 points (4 of 4 from the field, 2 of 2 from three-point range), Adams had 14 points (5 of 9 from the floor, 4 of 7 from three), and Poythress had nine points.
Young had 18 points and five assists in only 18 minutes before his ejection; one only knows what would have came with him being able to finish this contest. His Player of the Week chances took a hit, but he still had some ridiculous numbers over the last seven days:
In four games over the last week, Trae Young averaged 34.8 points, 9.8 assists and 4.8 rebounds in 39.5 minutes (.454 FG%, .559 3FG%, .914 FT%).— Hawks PR (@HawksPR) March 3, 2019
Huerter had 12 and perhaps the biggest basket of the game, despite missing two free throws that would have all but iced it with the Hawks up three with under 20 seconds to play. The Hawks were able to hold on after several more fouls and free throws.
The Hawks will travel to Miami for road back-to-back against the Heat on Monday evening.