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Bulls halt Hawks, set team record for fewest points allowed

The SportsXchange

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Bulls were determined to regain their home-court advantage, and the Atlanta Hawks certainly cooperated.

Atlanta set several records for offensive futility Monday in a 97-58 loss at the United Center.

A layup by Jeff Teague with 7.9 seconds left prevented the Hawks from breaking their all-time record for fewest points in a game. The mark of 57 has stood since 1955.

The Bulls did set a team record for fewest points allowed. That one stood for less than a year, as they gave up 59 points to the Magic at Orlando on March 19.

Chicago was coming off consecutive home losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, which left the Bulls with a 10-10 record at the United Center this season. On the road, they're 10-5.

"I feel like the ball was moving well offensively. Defensively, we were all on the same page," Chicago center Joakim Noah said. "I think it was all about our edge and our mindset. I felt like that was the difference tonight."

The Hawks scored just 20 points in the first half, a franchise low for both teams. The total was one off the NBA record for fewest points in a first half, set by the Los Angeles Clippers against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999.

Atlanta held a 13-12 lead after ex-Bulls forward Kyle Korver hit two free throws with 6:37 left in the first quarter. From there, the Hawks scored just two points over the next 13 minutes as part of a 31-4 Bulls run.

The second quarter was stunningly bad. Atlanta hit two of 21 shots, committed seven turnovers and scored just five points, also the worst performance in franchise history.

"This was very, very embarrassing," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "From where we were as a team to where we are right now, we have lost our sense of being a team. Why that has happened, I really can't put my finger on it. We have lost that sense of trust for one another."

Drew promised to make some changes when the team returns home to face the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. Atlanta has lost six of its past seven games.

"We have to find a group that will compete on both ends at a high level with no excuses, with no finger-pointer toward blaming officials, blaming each other," Drew added. "Our first few games of the season, we were a team that was scrappy, we were a team that brought some physicality, and we were a team that played together. Somewhere along the line, we lost that."

Carlos Boozer led the way for Chicago with 20 points and 13 rebounds, his eighth double-double in the past nine games. Luol Deng added 18 points, and Joakim Noah finished with nine points and 16 rebounds.

The Bulls also set team records for lowest field-goal percentage allowed in a half (.205) and tied the mark for fewest points allowed in a quarter.

"I think we have a pretty serious-minded team," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. "For us, we had 10 home losses. We spent some time analyzing why. But it's important not to focus in on the past, and I thought our team did that. There are times we played extremely well at home. I think the important thing is to come out with the right mindset from the start of the game."

Atlanta's high scorer was Mike Scott, who had 10 points off the bench. Korver and Josh Smith each contributed nine points. Frustration seemed to set in during the third quarter, when Smith and Teague got technicals and Devin Harris was called for a flagrant foul after sending ex-Atlanta guard Kirk Hinrich flying into the basket support.

Teague was on the floor during garbage time in the fourth quarter most likely so he could play against his younger brother, Bulls rookie Marquis Teague, who checked in for the first time midway through the final period. The brothers played against each other once before in the NBA, Dec. 22 in Atlanta.

NOTES: The 20 points scored by the Hawks in the first half were a franchise low by a wide margin. The previous record was 25, set a few different times. Atlanta's previous low for points in a quarter was six, set at Minnesota on Nov. 23, 1994. ... Hawks forward DeShawn Stevenson plans to have his right knee examined when the team returns to Atlanta. He sat Monday's game. ... Korver knocked down his first 3-point attempt of the night, making it 31 straight games with a 3-pointer made, the longest streak of his career. ... Korver spent the past two seasons with the Bulls and admitted before the game it was tough to leave. "One of the cliches that's always said is, 'Leave it all out on the floor.' We had a group that really did that for two years," he said. "We had such good chemistry and enjoyed playing with each other. So that part was tough, for sure."
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