Bulls 105, Hawks 97
“We had some moments where we were sharp, but overall we clearly had some lag from the game yesterday,” Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. “That’s why you have to win these types of games.”
The Bulls haven’t lost to Atlanta since April 9, 2004. Overall, they have won five of six and 12 of 16.
“It seems like every time we come down here, it’s on a back-to-back situation,” Hinrich said. “Every quarter, we just got a little better. We were able to do enough to get the win, and we’ll definitely take it. It was just a matter of being able to stop them consistently.”
After Smith’s putback of a runner he missed at the 3:57 mark of the third, the 21-year-old missed his next six shots. He denied that having Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas block consecutive attempts affected his confidence.
Smith also thought Atlanta held together defensively, even though Thomas dunked over him and converted a three-point play early in the fourth.
“They started hitting shots,” Smith said. “They were hitting tough shots. You can’t do anything about that when you’re playing defense.”
Hawks coach Mike Woodson disagreed.
“There were three key matchups going into the game with Hinrich, Deng and Gordon,” Woodson said. “I think those guys outplayed our three guys. We have to get better as a group, individually on the ball defending. We just have too many breakdowns.”
Deng’s 20-footer gave the Bulls an 82-80 lead after Marvin Williams’ running hook forced the game’s 10th and final tie.
“Today’s game was more mental than physical because we knew we were tired going in,” Deng said. “We just had to find a way to win today. I think we were just more focused. P.J. Brown encouraged all the guys to bring some energy, and that helped us.”
The Philips Arena crowd roared when Thomas stole the ball from Zaza Pachulia and drove uncontested for a hard left-handed dunk that made it 88-82 with 6:27 remaining.
“I was nowhere near where I was last night,” said Thomas, who set a career high with 27 points Saturday against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. “My fourth quarter has always been my best. But I’m still not where I want to be. Im just glad we got the job done.”
Hinrich followed with a 19-footer from the right wing to push the lead to 90-82.
Losers in six straight to Chicago at home, the Hawks committed 20 turnovers, four each from Lue and Pachulia.
“That was the key to the game,” Lue said. “That’s what hurt us the most. This was a tough one to swallow.”
Williams finished with 16 points, and Lue had 15 for Atlanta.
Ben Gordon scored 15 for the Bulls.
The Bulls improved to 31-14 against the Eastern Conference, 11-5 against the Southeast Division. … Atlanta fell to 14-30 vs. the East, 2-12 against the Central. … G Joe Johnson, Atlanta’s leading scorer with a 25.0 average, missed his 13th straight game with a right calf contusion. … With the Final Four in town, North Carolina coach Roy Williams watched two of his former players, Kansas’ Hinrich and the Tar Heels’ Marvin Williams. … The Bulls improved to 29-8 when scoring 100 or more points.