Atlanta (19-6) at Chicago (9-15)

  • Game info: 8:00 pm EST Sat Dec 19, 2009
  • TV: FSS, WGN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Nearly two weeks ago, the Atlanta Hawks blew out the visiting Chicago Bulls. With Joe Johnson(notes) leading the way, they haven’t stopped rolling since.

The Hawks will try to continue their run Saturday night with a seventh straight victory and sixth in a row over the host Bulls.

After grinding out an 80-75 win at Dallas on Dec. 5, Atlanta returned home to face Chicago four nights later and opened the second half on a 20-4 run en route to a 118-83 victory. The 35-point margin of victory was the largest of the season.

The Hawks (19-6) have won their next four games by an average of 17.8 points following Friday’s 96-83 home victory over Utah. The Southeast Division-leaders have averaged 113.0 points over the last five contests.

Leading by 10 at halftime, Atlanta outscored the Jazz 37-17 in the third quarter and coach Mike Woodson rested his starters in the fourth.

“We’re just playing good basketball,” Woodson said. “I thought the third quarter was probably as good a third quarter as we’ve played since I’ve been here.”

That move prevented Johnson, though, from a season high-tying fourth straight game with at least 20 points. He was held to 12 on 4-of-11 shooting.

Johnson has averaged 21.6 points over the past seven games, but was also limited to 12 against Chicago (9-15) earlier this month. Jamal Crawford(notes)—a former first-round draft pick of the Bulls—scored a season-high 29 and matched another with four 3-pointers in that contest.

In his first season with Atlanta after splitting time last season with New York and Golden State, the veteran guard has helped the Hawks move atop the Eastern Conference in scoring and in the top five overall (105.6 ppg) after finishing 19th in the league last season with 98.1.

With the loss of leading scorer Ben Gordon(notes) to free agency, the Bulls have headed in the opposite direction. In 2008-09, Chicago was eighth in the league with 102.2 points per game but is among the NBA’s worst this season, averaging 90.5 points.

The Bulls, however, are coming off one of their better performances after rallying from 17 points down for a 98-89 victory over the visiting Knicks on Thursday. Luol Deng(notes) scored 24 points and John Salmons(notes) had 20.

“Our guys gutted it out in the second half,” Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro told the team’s Web site. “We got good performances from a few guys.”

Five players scored in double figures. Among those were reigning rookie of the year Derrick Rose(notes) and Joakim Noah(notes), who needed cortisone shots before the game.

Rose scored 18 after aggravating a strained muscle in his rib cage earlier in the week, and Noah added 15 and eight rebounds despite suffering from tendinitis in his left rotator cuff. Both are expected to play Saturday.

In its fifth of a season-high six-game homestand, Chicago is attempting to win consecutive games for just the third time in 2009-10. The Bulls, losers of 11 of 14 overall, haven’t beaten the Hawks since March 25, 2008, at the United Center.

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Saturday, Dec 19