The suddenly streaking Bulls dashed back from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit with less than five minutes left to stun the Atlanta Hawks with a 106-104 victory.
Jimmy Butler with 33 points made the winning free throws with 2.1 seconds left and scored the Bulls’ last nine points. Butler also had eight assists while Rajon Rondo was brilliant with 25 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Denzel Valentine added 13 points with two big fourth quarter threes. Paul Zipser had 10 points. Dennis Schroder had 29 for Atlanta. The Bulls have won three straight and four of the last five.
The Bulls moved to 37-39 and into seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Hawks are 39-37 as the Bulls defeated Atlanta for the first time this season.
The Bulls were without Dwyane Wade and coming off wins in three of the last four games. Paul Millsap was out for Atlanta. It was a fast start again for the Bulls, this time with a bit of a surprise on the early shooting of Zipser, who made a pair of threes. When Rondo added another and a drive past Dwight Howard for a score and 17-10 Bulls lead, the Hawks adjourned to their sideline to talk it out. It worked as the Hawks with talon-like defense clawed back to tie the game at 19 with 2:44 left in the quarter. The pace slowed late as the Bulls led 23-21 after one led by Zipser’s eight points. Though the bench went scoreless and the Bulls fell to 38 percent shooting for the quarter as Atlanta held a 12-4 lead in inside points. Michael Carter-Williams and Denzel Valentine threes got the Bulls going in the second quarter with a Nikola Mirotic three making it 40-36 Bulls midway through the quarter. The Bulls’ shooting went awry and the game slowed, but Rondo changed that to close the half with two speedway full court drives for scores as the Bulls led 52-46 at halftime. Rondo led with 11 at halftime. Dwight Howard had 11 for Atlanta.
The Bulls took a 56-46 lead early in the second half. But they were unable to control their defensive boards or Tim Hardaway. The Hawks guard blitzed the Bulls for 11 straight Atlanta points with a pair of threes, the second after multiple offensive rebounds. That enabled the Hawks to inch back and at the end of a 13-4 run to take a 70-69 lead. Atlanta did it with second shots and drives to the basket. The Hawks had 10 free throw attempts to none for the Bulls in the first 10 minutes of the second half to take a 75-73 lead. Butler finally got the Bulls first two free throws of the quarter with 1:40 left. Butler carried the Bulls after they lost their lead, scoring the Bulls last 10 points of the third. But with a Kent Bazemore half court shot the Hawks went into the fourth quarter leading 84-79. The Hawks kept up the momentum to take an 89-79 lead early in the fourth quarter, finally able to get some traction with again Rondo being the aggressor. But the Hawks continued to batter the Bulls on the offensive boards, a 17-4 edge in second chance points with 4:50 left in the game the difference. Atlanta led 100-91. The Bulls came back with a pair of Valentine transition threes to get within 100-97 with 3:11 left in the game. Butler then tied it at 102 with a three with just under two minutes left. Schroder gave the Hawks a 104-102 lead with 35.8 seconds left on a short jumper after a Butler miss. Butler then tied it with 32.9 seconds left on a tough layup into the heart of the Hawks defense. Butler then gave the Bulls the lead with two free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining.