Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol are going to Toronto. And the rest of the Bulls are going to try to figure it out as the Bulls went into All-Star break with a 113-90 loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
The loss was the Bulls’ 13th in their last 18 games and fourth straight as they get a week off after falling to 27-25. Atlanta is 31-24. The Bulls fell to seventh in the Eastern Conference and a game ahead of nine place Detroit.
The Bulls were led by Pau Gasol with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Doug McDermott had 17 points of the bench. Derrick Rose had 14 points and Bobby Portis 12. Atlanta had eight players in double figures led by Dennis Schroder with 18 points.
The Bulls got Rose back, but they’ll be in adjustment mode for awhile with Butler out three to four weeks after his knee injury and Nikola Mirotic’s return delayed with complications after appendix surgery. But the Bulls are moving up the minutes of Mike Dunleavy.
The Bulls bolted ahead behind the speed of Rose, who sliced through the Atlanta fortifications twice and added a three pointer for a 19-12 Bulls lead midway through the first quarter. But the Bulls ran into two issues that have held them back lately, turnover and failure to protect their defensive boards. That combination enabled the Hawks to squeeze ahead 23-21 with three minutes left in the first. Then with Gasol showing off his All-Star spin moves inside, the Bulls went ahead 29-28 after one quarter as the Bulls shot 62 percent. The Bulls deep reserve group with so many players injured suffered again as it started the second quarter as the Hawks went ahead 40-34. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg got the starters back in after four minutes as Rose and Gasol hit jumpers. But the Bulls loose with the ball again was costly as the Hawks kept a 50-44 lead with three minutes left, the last point on a technical foul against Rose after he felt he was hammered on a drive without a foul call. The Hawks went onto lead 53-48 at halftime.
The Bulls trailed 57-53 early in the third quarter when the Hawks hit them with an 11-0 run. Taj Gibson added another technical foul, upset with the officiating and the Hawks, who move the ball well in drawing switches on lesser defenders, got Kyle Korver open for a pair of threes for a 68-53 lead.
Doug McDermott, giving the Bulls their only reliable offense off the bench, matched that with a pair of threes as he came in for a foul plagued Mike Dunleavy as the Bulls got within 77-67 with 3:31 in the third quarter. The Hawks put the Bulls farther back in their rear view mirrors as the Bulls were mostly one shot and out as the Hawks pushed the ball back hard for scores and a 91-73 Atlanta lead going into the fourth quarter.