Hawks 97, Bulls 88
ATLANTA (AP)—The Atlanta Hawks needed 73 games to win two in a row for the second time this season.
Asked Hawks coach Terry Stotts: “It took us how long?”
The Hawks beat New Orleans 84-76 Thursday night. The only other time the Hawks won back-to-back games was in early February, when they beat Minnesota and Boston.
“That’s why our record is what it is,” Terry said. “In this league, you have to put good games together constantly.”
Even with two straight wins, the Hawks are only 6-14 since the All-Star break.
The Hawks have managed to stay ahead of the Bulls, who have lost 11 of 13, at the bottom of the Central Division.
Chicago’s starters combined for only 37 points, but four reserves scored in double figures. Marcus Fizer scored all of his team-leading 15 points in the second half.
“I was trying to search for a lineup that could play hard together, and I finally found one, but by then it was a little bit too late,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of life early.”
Jamal Crawford led the Bulls’ starters with 11 points, including nine in the first quarter.
“We were pretty disappointed with the way we guarded Crawford in the first quarter, and we put more pressure on them and took them out of their rhythm,” Terry said.
Stephen Jackson led Atlanta with 27 points—including 10 in the final three minutes—and 10 rebounds. After the Bulls pulled to within three points at 82-79 with 3:11 left to play, Jackson hit a 3-pointer, made two free throws and sank another jumper to push the lead back to 10 points.
“Every time we tried to make a run, somebody stepped up and made a big shot for them,” Chicago’s Jannero Pargo said.
Since the Hawks and Bulls played on Oct. 31, each team’s starting lineup has been dramatically reworked. Jackson and Terry are the only two Atlanta starters to have made it through the season, and Eddy Curry and Jamal Crawford are the only holdovers in the Bulls’ starting five.
Each team has had late-season acquisitions step in with high-scoring efforts. Pargo, who had stints with the Lakers and Toronto before signing with Chicago on March 15, scored a career-high 34 points against Milwaukee on Friday. Pargo came off the bench to score 14 points against the Hawks.
Similarly, Bob Sura was a low-scoring backup with Detroit before coming to Atlanta in a trade Feb. 19. With the Hawks, Sura has posted seven double-doubles as a starting guard.
Sura had 23 points and a career-best 15 rebounds in Thursday night’s win over New Orleans and added 15 points against the Bulls.
In the first period, Chicago and Atlanta showed why they sit at the bottom of the division. The Hawks missed their first 10 shots from the field before Chris Crawford scored with 6:44 left in the period. The Bulls shot only 38.1 percent from the field and led only 18-15 at the end of the period.
Jackson opened the second period with a three-point play to tie the game, and the Hawks never trailed again.
A 3-pointer by Terry gave Atlanta a 33-25 lead with 4:36 left in the second period, and Terry added three 3-pointers in the third period as the Hawks
: Chicago’s Tyson Chandler landed hard on his back when he was hit by Atlanta’s Michael Bradley, who was charged with a flagrant foul, with 6:48 left in the second period. Chandler missed both free throws before leaving the game. He did not return and said after the game he does not know if he will be able to play Monday at Miami. “My back is pretty stiff and sore right now,” he said. … Atlanta’s Jackson, who had scored in double figures in 33 straight games before being held to seven points Thursday night against New Orleans, was back in double figures against the Bulls. … Atlanta has won seven of its last10 games against Chicago.