The Bulls Saturday saw their six game winning streak caught, clawed and put away by the Atlanta Hawks 120-105.
The Bulls fell to 22-13 and 6-8 on the road. Atlanta is 23-15.
The Bulls were led by Jimmy Butler with 27 points and Nikola Mirotic with 24 points and 10 rebounds and five of nine three pointers. Derrick Rose had 17 points and Pau Gasol 10 points and seven rebounds. Al Horford had 33 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four blocks for Atlanta. Paul Millsap had 18 points and six blocks.
It was defense where the Bulls let down as the Hawks shot 52 percent and moved the ball almost unimpeded for 33 assists.
The Hawks came out fast, aggressive and fluid in knocking the Bulls back and off their good feelings riding that six-game winning streak. The Hawks were faster, got on the floor faster for loose balls and made the rare late afternoon start look like the Bulls’ players still hadn’t gotten up from their naps. The Hawks went out ahead 12-5 and 23-10. Kyle Korver lost Jimmy Butler for open shots and Al Horford was too quick inside, the Bulls committed six turnovers and the Hawks had a dizzying first quarter 16-6 edge with inside points for a 30-19 lead after one. It got worse to start the second quarter as the Hawks sent the Bulls into a quick timeout with a 7-2 start and then 7-3 right after the timeout as the Hawks piled it on for a 49-30 lead. Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg went back to the starters quickly in the second quarter and they began to make a run with Nikola Mirotic three of six on threes. The Bulls got within 57-47, but Mirotic gave some back as well with the Hawks turning the Bulls interior defenders in circles and Korver, who had been slumping, not missing. He was four of four in the half against Butler and Horford added 15 points for a 64-51 Atlanta halftime lead. The Hawks shot 56 percent in the half with 18 assists to eight for the Bulls, seven of 12 on threes and nine first half steals and five blocks. The Bulls snapped back after halftime with a 9-2 start to the third quarter with Mirotic banking in a three. From there with Rose and Butler challenging the defense and this time the Bulls scrapping for the loose balls and protecting on the defensive boards, the Bulls added a 10-0 run to get within 75-72 with 4:35 left in the third quarter. But the Bulls could not wrest the lead away from the plucky Hawks. Butler scored on a pair of physical drives, but the Hawks got a breakaway dunk from Horford and follow dunk from Mike Scott to go into the fourth quarter leading 89-83. Butler had 14 points for the Bulls in the third quarter. But the Hawks again owned the start as they scored the first five points to send the Bulls into a quick timeout trailing 94-83. The timeout didn’t help much as Atlanta sent the Bulls into yet another a minute later after an 8-0 run for a 102-85 Atlanta lead with just under 10 minutes left in the game on the way to a Hawks win.