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Trae Young keys second half surge as Hawks top Bulls, 120-108

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

State Farm Arena has been busy this week, with the Atlanta Hawks playing four games in their home venue over the course of only six days. The Hawks opened with two wins before a blowout loss on Wednesday and, on Friday evening, Atlanta welcomed the Chicago Bulls to town for an Eastern Conference matchup. At the half, the Hawks seemed to be in a a precarious position but, led by Trae Young, Atlanta zoomed to a stellar performance after the break and picked up a 120-108 victory.

The Bulls got off to a hot start behind Zach LaVine, as the All-Star guard scored 10 points in the first three minutes to give Chicago the lead. Atlanta’s offense looked just fine, however, with Trae Young accounting for 10 of the team’s first 12 points, including a nice lob to Kevin Huerter in transition.

Young also had his floater working, and the star guard scored 12 points in the opening quarter.

Atlanta never led in the first quarter, though, even as the offense performed well. Defensively, there wasn’t a great deal of resistance, and the Bulls appeared comfortable as a result.

In the early portion of the second quarter, there was a nice flourish from Lou Williams and Onyeka Okongwu, resulting in a pair of dunks.

The rest of the first half belonged to Chicago and, more specifically, Zach LaVine. LaVine scored a mind-blowing 39 points — on 13-of-19 shooting and 7-of-9 from three-point range — before halftime, representing the top scoring mark in the first half by any NBA player during the 2020-21 season.

While some of that is just a fantastic shooting display, Atlanta failed to slow LaVine down in any meaningful way. As a result, a relatively solid offensive showing from the Hawks in the first 24 minutes wasn’t enough, and the home team trailed by a 66-53 margin.

Early in the third quarter, Young picked up where he left off after an 18-point first half. He scored 10 points in approximately four minutes, keying the Hawks in slashing the deficit to four.

It was a grind for the rest of the quarter as the Hawks attempted to close the gap, but Atlanta finally tied the game on a bucket from Young, and Okongwu’s tip-in gave the Hawks a two-point lead late in the third.

Young was masterful in the third quarter, scoring 17 points, and the Bulls scored only 18 points as a team. Still, the Hawks had work to do with only a two-point edge as the closing period arrived.

In fact, Chicago threw the first punch in the fourth quarter, opening with an 11-4 run to take a 95-90 lead. The Bulls eventually pushed their lead to as many as seven points, but the Hawks countered with a spurt to retake the advantage after a three-pointer from Danilo Gallinari.

Following a timeout, the Hawks kept coming, with Young at the center of it all. He assisted on three straight buckets and, after a few key stops, Young buried a floater to give the Hawks a 111-103 lead with 3:26 to go.

Overall, the Hawks used a 21-4 run to take a double-digit lead in the final minutes, and the Bulls simply didn’t have enough. Chicago scored only four points over a period of more than seven minutes, and when Gallinari knocked down a three-pointer with 59 seconds left, the game was fully decided.

Young led the way for the Hawks with an outstanding effort. He scored 42 points on 15-of-25 shooting and 11-of-14 from the free throw line, with nine assists and eight rebounds to round out the performance. He was flanked by Capela’s 22-point, 10-rebound showing, and Gallinari enjoyed a strong fourth quarter on the way to 20 points off the bench.

After a four-game homestand this week at State Farm Arena, the Hawks will hit the road for a matchup against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday afternoon.

Stay tuned.