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Hawks outlast Bulls in Atlanta

Bulls fall to 15-9 on the season

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By Sam Smith | 12.15.2014 | 8:41 p.m. CT

The Bulls Monday repeatedly closed within a point or two in the second half, but could never gain control of the game and lost to the Atlanta Hawks 93-86.

The Hawks went to 17-7 and 12-2 at home while the Bulls fell to 15-9 and 11-4 on the road.

It was a game Atlanta controlled in never trailing after an early Bulls 9-7 lead. The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 22 points. Taj Gibson had 15 points and 17 rebounds. The Bulls still were within 87-84 with a minute left when Al Horford made a 15 footer. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Butler then made an amazing steal forcing a jump ball off a Kyle Korver pass after a Pau Gasol putback for a jump ball with 10.8 seconds left. But the Hawks got the jump ball and two free throws as they went on to the win.

The Bulls again started slowly, falling behind the Hawks 16-9 and trailing 28-23 after the first quarter. The Hawks did a good job early imposing their will, which was their faster drive and kick game given they are a smaller team. Jimmy Butler kept the Bulls in the game with nine first quarter points and 14 in the half. The Bulls got a spurt back into the game from Rose with three driving scores, his only baskets in a three of 13 first half to close within 40-38. Rose would make three fabulous defensive plays in succession, taking a charge, stripping Jeff Teague and blocking a Teague runner. But Rose added three turnovers to his five assists as a Kyle Korver three gave Atlanta a 50-44 halftime lead.

The Bulls kept getting close, within two several times in the third quarter. But each time the Hawks would pull away with Brand late in the quarter scoring six straight points for a 73-64 Atlanta lead going into the fourth quarter. Joakim Noah missed his fourth straight game with a sprained ankle.

Observations:

1. Jimmy Butler, whose shot was in question just a few months ago, has worked himself into a reliable shooter with a nice mid range game and even made three of five threes.

2. Rose attacking has been frequent topic of conversation, but you have to shoot jumpers when the defense sinks into the lane. Rose will have to start making more regularly to open up the middle. Still, four of his first five field goals were drives. He finished six of 21 for 14 points, eight assists and six turnovers.

3. Kyle Korver has become one of the more remarkable shooters, perhaps in NBA history. The Bulls had their best defender, Butler, on him and Korver still made four threes in the first three quarters despite everyone knowing all he’s shooting are threes.