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Bulls Look To Continue Hot Play, Visit Hawks
Posted Dec 16 2006 12:29PM
At the end of the Chicago Bulls' road trip last month, the team looked to be unraveling, falling six games under .500. After finishing an eight-game homestand, the Bulls think they've put that stretch behind them.
Chicago (13-10) returns to the road Saturday for the first time in more than two weeks as the Bulls face the slumping Atlanta Hawks.
After a 1-6 road trip, Chicago finished its longest homestand in team history with a 7-1 record, capped with a 117-111 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.
``Before the season, that's what we wanted to do, be a great home team. It was one of our goals,'' Chris Duhon said. ``The last two years we have not played well at home, this year I think everybody is making a conscious effort to come out and bring the necessary energy for us to win.''
Kirk Hinrich scored 21 points and was one of six players to score in double figures. Ben Wallace added 10 and a season-high 27 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double and fourth of the season.
``That's what we have to do. We've got to get back to playing defense,'' Wallace said. ``Especially, we have to take care of our basket. We can't allow guys to walk down the lane and get layups. The starters and everyone who came off the bench did a great of the protecting the basket.''
The Bulls outrebounded Milwaukee 59-43 and went 35-of-41 at the free throw line, compared to the Bucks' 16-of-34.
Milwaukee cut Chicago's lead to 112-111 with 24 seconds left, but Ben Gordon hit two free throws seal the win.
The Bulls have won nine of 10, but are just 3-8 on the road this season.
The Hawks (9-13) snapped a four-game losing streak Friday, beating the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-88. Zaza Pachulia scored 22 points and Josh Smith added 16 and 10 rebounds in the team's first win in four games since starting guard and leading scorer Joe Johnson was sidelined with a right calf strain.
``We've struggled since Joe has been out,'' coach Mike Woodson said. ``You don't know in this league which guys will step up that are in uniform when someone else is not.
``When Joe is on the floor, the guys look to him. When he's not, guys are soul searching. We showed tonight, we could make it without him.''
It was the first time this season the Hawks have had four starters score in double figures.
The Hawks have lost seven straight to the Bulls, including three consecutive meetings last season. Johnson, who is averaging 28.7 points this season, scored 25.3 points per game in those games.
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