Bulls Take Care of Business, Top Hawks
Chicago 96, Atlanta 90
ATLANTA, April 12 (Ticker) -- With an eye toward the scoreboard, the Chicago Bulls knew they had to turn around a slow start.
Ben Gordon scored 19 points and Kirk Hinrich added 17 and seven assists as the Bulls rallied for a 96-90 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
"That was a hard-fought win. Clearly we were tired in the beginning," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We have to win as many games as we can. As a coaching staff we kind of felt that Philly would go into New Jersey and win."
The Bulls struggled out of the gate and found themselves trailing, 28-18, after one quarter. They managed to forge a 43-43 tie at halftime and took control with a 17-7 run to end the third.
"We've been having slow starts a lot this season," Gordon said. "I don't know why but we picked it up when we needed to. How you get the victory doesn't matter. You just have to dig down."
Mike Sweetney had six points during the burst, Hinrich had four and Jannero Pargo capped it with a 21-footer for a 70-60 lead entering the fourth. The Hawks got within six points on more than one occasion in the final period, including at 91-85 with 2:32 left on Tyronn Lue's 3-pointer.
But Atlanta forward Josh Childress punched Andres Nocioni on the play, receiving an ejection and giving a pair of free throws to Nocioni that made it an eight-point game.
"The game got a little physical," Childress said. "We were just battling in the trenches. That's the best way I can put it. I hope the league takes a good look at the tape and is fair."
There was a stand-off between the two teams moments before the incident and numerous displays of physical play. "It's playoff time," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "I don't mind games like that, if it goes both ways. We played hard, we battled and you got to like games like that."
Sweetney and Nocioni combined for 29 points for the Bulls, who have won eight of their last 10.
Josh Smith led six players in double figures as the Hawks lost their seventh straight in the series. Atlanta turned the ball over 19 times.
"That's a good team, they're fighting for a playoff spot," said Smith, who blocked six shots in the first half. "I think we played well defensively but the turnovers killed us."
Chicago was able to survive without the services of guard Chris Duhon (back) and forward Luol Deng (concussion). After the game, Gordon was limping around and Hinrich was receiving treatment for a dislocated finger.
"It's not hurting a little, it's bad," Gordon said. "I hurt it in Philly (on April 5), and then again in practice and then last night."
Hinrich appeared a little less worried with his injury.
"I just dislocated my finger, just my pinkie finger so it's not that big of a deal," Hinrich said.
Both players will have a day of rest before Chicago hosts Washington on Friday.