They are figuring out how to start quickly, though. The Bulls
opened a 16-point lead after one quarter and rolled to a 100-85
victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday at the United Center.
On Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago scored a
season-high 34 points in the opening quarter. On Tuesday, the Bulls
hit Atlanta with 33 points in the first quarter. One common
denominator in the two games was forward Taj Gibson in the starting
lineup. He started his third consecutive game in place of Carlos
Boozer, who is out due to a left calf strain.
Gibson scored 24 points against the Hawks, hitting 12 of 19 shots
from the field while adding 12 rebounds and five assists. During
eight games as a starter this season, Gibson is averaging 19.3
points and 9.8 rebounds.
"You can set the tone right away instead of just sitting on the
bench getting cold," Gibson said of being a starter. "But I can
adapt. I'll adapt to whatever the coach gives me, tells me to do.
That's part of being a pro. Just do your job and be happy to be in
Chicago center Joakim Noah collected his fourth career
triple-double, piling up 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. He
had six assists in the first quarter alone. Forward Mike Dunleavy
added 15 points for Chicago (26-25), while guard D.J. Augustin
"It feels great to play well. There's no better feeling, especially
when you win," Noah said. "A lot of guys stepped up. Taj played
great. I think the ball was moving real well. It was a good win
against a team that's ahead of us."
Atlanta (25-25) lost its season-high fourth in a row and dropped a
half-game behind the Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings. The
Hawks visit the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday, their last game before
the All-Star break.
"I don't think it's any one major thing," Atlanta coach Mike
Budenholzer said of the losing streak. "I think our defensive
rebounding has slipped and is not where it needs to be. But I think
we've just hit a little bit of a rough patch. We really like our
guys. Kind of like tonight, the challenge is to play better for 48
Atlanta trailed 11-9 midway through the first quarter, but Chicago
knocked down 10 of its next 14 shots to build a 33-17 lead after
one. The advantage grew to 25 with three minutes left in the first
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"I thought the first quarter was great," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau
said. "We came out with a lot of energy on both ends. I thought we
got a good pace, were making good decisions."
The Hawks used a 14-2 run to close within 78-70 on a 3-pointer by
guard Louis Williams with 33 seconds left in the third quarter.
"Tonight, we needed someone to be aggressive and attack the basket,"
Williams said. "I thought I did that in the third quarter. We just
couldn't come back after the hole we dug."
Another Atlanta run closed the gap to 87-79 on forward Mike Scott's
3-pointer with 8:47 remaining in the game. Trailing by eight, the
Hawks missed three chances to get closer. Chicago then dropped in
three consecutive baskets, two by Gibson, to boost the lead to
Atlanta finally ended a five-minute scoreless streak with guard Kyle
Korver's technical free throw. Hawks guard Jeff Teague was assessed
a flagrant foul with 3:21 left for wrapping up Gibson on a layup
attempt. Gibson fell to the ground and grabbed Teague's leg in
retaliation, earning the technical.
Forward Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 15 points, while Williams
scored 13 and Teague added 12.
Chicago played its first game at the United Center in more than two
weeks. The Bulls just completed a six-game Western road trip with a
respectable 3-3 record.
NOTES: Atlanta signed F Cartier Martin to a second 10-day contract
Tuesday. Martin has spent the majority of the season with the Hawks,
except for when he signed two 10-day contracts in January with
Chicago. "I think he's somebody that's doing a lot of the things
we're emphasizing," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said of Martin.
"He competes defensively. He gets after it on the defensive boards.
He can space the court and make shots." Martin scored three points
in five minutes Tuesday night. ... Bulls F Carlos Boozer missed his
third consecutive game with a calf strain. ... Hawks G Kyle Korver
stretched his NBA record streak of consecutive games with at least
one 3-pointer to 119 by sinking his second attempt of the night
early in the second quarter.
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