Following a dismal 0-3 road trip that was marred by injury, the Atlanta Hawks returned home to face the Chicago Bulls on Saturday evening. Even on the second night of a back-to-back, the Hawks entered the night with tangible optimism on the injury front, with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Kevin Huerter returning to action and 15 (!) healthy players at the start of the game. The first half was ominous for Atlanta, but they put together an impressive finish and toppled the Bulls by a final margin of 108-97.
Chicago enjoyed a promising start, taking a 7-2 lead, but Trae Young got things going for the Hawks, and he enjoyed a very strong opening period.
Atlanta’s run stretched to 12-3 overall when Tony Snell, who was getting the start at small forward, connected on a three-pointer.
Chicago did stabilize matters, even taking a brief lead late in the first quarter. Atlanta then scored the final seven points of the opening period, securing a 31-26 lead after 12 minutes.
The second quarter was far less kind, though, and defense was largely the culprit for the home team. The Bulls scored 37 points in the second period, getting to the rim with consistency, and that put Atlanta behind the eight-ball.
Chicago opened the quarter with a 9-2 run against Atlanta’s second unit, taking control on the scoreboard. The Hawks did counter with a nice lob from Young to Clint Capela and a couple of three-pointers from Bogdan Bogdanovic, chipping away at the deficit.
After some reasonable play, the final minute of the first half was a nightmare for the Hawks. Atlanta had two shots in the air that would have tied the game but, after both went begging, things swung in Chicago’s direction. The Hawks committed a backcourt turnover on an inbounds pass, leading directly to a three-pointer, and Young was called for a loose ball foul with less than a second remaining, leading to free throws for the Bulls.
The end result of that flurry was a nine-point halftime deficit for the Hawks. The team’s offense was reasonably effective, headlined by 22 points from Young, but the defense was porous. Chicago scored 34 points in the paint, and Atlanta committed 10 turnovers to make things even easier on the visitors.
Coming out of the locker room, things were much different for the Hawks, in a (very) positive way. Though the Bulls scored first, the Hawks responded with the next 13 points, with hot shooting, quality defense and impressive ball movement to reclaim the lead.
Atlanta wasn’t done there, adding four more points after a Chicago timeout and taking a 71-65 lead. The Bulls finally scored, but the Hawks were still hot, putting up 26 points in the blink of an eye and pushing their lead to 80-69.
The Hawks dominated the third quarter in total, outscoring the Bulls by a 28-12 margin. Atlanta cooled off offensively, but the defense matched its best quarter of the season in terms of points allowed, and that set the table for a lead as the fourth quarter arrived.
Still, the Hawks needed to find their offense, as they scored only two points in almost seven minutes from the end of the third quarter to the beginning of the fourth. Danilo Gallinari broke them out of that slump with a timely three-pointer.
Gallinari is too good to be this open. pic.twitter.com/cWZSSVPZQq— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) May 2, 2021
Atlanta maintained its lead, but things were not overly comfortable. Chicago climbed within a five-point margin with fewer than eight minutes remaining, but the Hawks had another spurt to come.
Young connected on his fourth three-pointer of the game, giving Atlanta a 10-point cushion in short order.
The Hawks managed to keep things in that range for the next handful of minutes, with Bogdanovic sending things into a timeout with a gorgeous layup to put Atlanta up 101-89 with 3:47 remaining.
Excerpted directly from the manual 'How to Play Basketball'. pic.twitter.com/VxkFmEwDk6— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) May 2, 2021
Chicago did slice the deficit to eight points within the final three minutes, but their threat never materialized. In the end, the Hawks were able to hold on for an 11-point victory.
Young was fantastic in his second game back from injury, putting together a highly productive, hyper-efficient performance. The third-year guard finished with 33 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including 4-of-8 from three-point range and 11-of-12 from the free throw line. Young also led the team with seven assists and was in complete control.
In support, Capela added his 43rd double-double of the season with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Bogdanovic produced 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, with Collins also generating a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, while also adding four steals.
On the whole, it wasn’t a dominant performance for 48 minutes. However, the Hawks did enough to win with a strong second half, and they picked up their 35th win of the season as a result.
The Hawks will stay in Atlanta after this game, with the Portland Trail Blazers visiting State Farm Arena on Monday evening.