The Atlanta Hawks snap their three-game losing streak and their four-gamer at home by defeating the struggling Chicago Bulls easily Friday night, 103-88.
The Atlanta Hawks needed this victory, as did the Chicago Bulls. Both teams have struggled mightily in the month of February, fighting for their Eastern Conference Playoff lives. Fortunately for the Hawks, Atlanta was able to put together its first complete game since the NBA All-Star Game, winning very much a one-sided game over the disjointed Chicago Bulls, 103-88, Friday night at Philips Arena.
This was the Atlanta Hawks’ first win since the NBA All-Star break, snapping a three-game losing streak and a decade-worst four-game slide at home. While Atlanta hasn’t had it together really since the NBA Trade Deadline rumors started to circulate, at least the Hawks know how to beat the worst Bulls team I’ve seen in close to a decade.
It wouldn’t shock me to see the 2015-16 Chicago Bulls miss the Eastern Conference Playoffs entirely they are that disconnected at the moment. I will say though, Doug McDermott is starting to become a very good basketball player for Fred Hoiberg in Chicago. He led all scorers with 20 off the Chicago bench. McDermott and Jimmy Butler are two building blocks that Chicago needs to build around.
Atlanta had four players in double figures scoring. Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 19 points on 6-13 shooting with nine assists, three rebounds, and two steals. Teague played one of his better games in a while. Atlanta is a better team when he’s playing well at the point.
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Al Horford shot the ball very well against the Bulls Friday night, as he finished with 18 points on 8-11 shooting, including 2-3 from three-point land. Horford had a game high plus/minus of +20 to go along with his five rebounds, four assists, four blocks, and a steal. Overall, Atlanta forced 21 Bulls’ turnovers.
Paul Millsap had another double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds. While he is still struggling to feel it from the field (3-12 shooting), he did most of his damage at the charity stripe, shooting a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line. He also had five blocks, four assists, and two steals.
Kent Bazemore had one of his better games in a while with 17 points on 6-17 shooting. While little was going in the basket from distance (1-8 from three), Bazemore was a perfect 4-4 at the line with seven rebounds, a block, and a steal.
While he didn’t get to double figures in scoring, Tim Hardaway, Jr. continues to show that he was worth head coach Mike Budenholzer’s decision to essentially use the Brooklyn Nets’ right to a pick swap to trade for him this past NBA Draft. Hardaway had nine points on 3-6 shooting with six rebounds, a steal, and an assist in over 19 minutes of court time.
Also in this game, Kirk Hinrich made his 2016 debut with the Atlanta Hawks by airballing a three-pointer against his former team in the Chicago Bulls when the game was well out of reach for the Bulls, so that was neat.
Overall, it was great to see the Atlanta Hawks get a much-needed victory after what has been a rather lousy February for the organization. While this year’s team certainly has a more finite ceiling than did last year’s 60-win squad, the Eastern Conference Playoffs seeds three through eight are still very much up for grabs.
If Atlanta can build off this convincing win over the Bulls Friday night, they may have a realistic shot at getting home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. The Atlanta Hawks will have Saturday off before hosting their Southeast Division rival in the Charlotte Hornets Sunday afternoon for a 3:30 PM ET tipoff. Let’s Go Hawks!