Mike Dunleavy scores 11 of his 20 points in 4th as Bulls top Hawks
January 4, 2014 (AP) – If there has been a bright spot to the Chicago Bulls’ injury-filled season, it has been their defense.
It came through again Saturday night, helping the Bulls overcome a 40.7 percent shooting night to hold the Atlanta Hawks to nearly 20 points below their season average in a 91-84 victory.
Opponents are shooting 43 percent against the Bulls.
“We have a defensive system and we work on it a lot,” Joakim Noah said. “It’s crazy how much we work on it. We work on defense every day.”
The Hawks, who were averaging 103.2 points, shot 37.2 percent and were 8 of 28 from 3-point range.
“We have a core of guys that understand it and are really good at it,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said about the defense.
“We know if we defend and rebound and keep our turnovers down, we’re going to be in a position to win. Right now, when you’re short-handed, that’s really what you have to do. It’s also what you have to do in every game, even when you’re completely healthy.”
Mike Dunleavy scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and Luol Deng added 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls, hitting two free throws with 8.8 seconds left to seal the win. Chicago led most of the way in winning for the fifth time in seven games.
Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague scored 16 points apiece for the Hawks.
A 3-point attempt by Kyle Korver that would have cut the Bulls’ lead to 84-82 with 4:18 left was overturned and ruled a shot clock violation upon review. Soon after, DeMarre Carroll was called for an offensive foul when the Hawks trailed 86-79.
“That was a big swing, a big change in the game,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said.
Korver extended his NBA record of games with at least one 3-pointer made to 103 straight when he hit the first of his two 3-pointers with 9:59 left in the first quarter.
Korver finished with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.
“I just have so much respect for those guys over there, how they continue to play hard every day and just grind and win games like tonight,” Korver said. “They just find ways. It’s not the prettiest basketball at times, but you have a lot of respect for them.”
The Hawks tied the game 67-all with 11:12 left on Mike Scott’s free throw. It was the first time the Bulls hadn’t led since there was 6:19 left in the first quarter. But Dunleavy answered with a 3-pointer, Noah scored on a putback and Jimmy Butler made a layup to put the Bulls ahead 74-69 with 8:41 remaining.
Atlanta pulled to within one on Teague’s layup with 5:38 left, but Dunleavy responded with a jumper and Taj Gibson scored on a dunk for an 84-79 lead.
“Mike Dunleavy really had a heck of a second half,” Budenholzer said. “Some of them were really well-contested, tough, difficult shots, and give him credit for making them.”
Carlos Boozer missed his first Bulls game of the season due to a sore right knee. MRI results on the knee were negative and the Bulls are hoping the injury isn’t serious. Gibson started in his place.
“The big thing is getting everyone back and healthy,” Thibodeau said. “Hopefully, Carlos will be short term, which I believe he will be. This is the first time we’ve had the group relatively whole.”
Butler and D.J. Augustin each had 11 points, and Gibson and Noah had 10 points and 12 rebounds apiece.
Scott scored 12 and Carroll had 10 for Atlanta.
The Hawks pulled within one twice late in the third quarter but were unable to pull ahead. The Bulls led 67-64 after three quarters.
“It was a close game and we just couldn’t find a way,” Budenholzer said. “I think we have to be a little smarter down the stretch. We have to compete every possession, every rebound.”
Deng made a half-court shot at the second-quarter buzzer to give the Bulls a 50-45 lead at the break. Korver had made a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to cut the Bulls’ lead to 47-45 after they were ahead by as many as 10.
The Bulls led 26-18 after the first quarter.
Atlanta had scored at least 100 points in 10 of 11 games. The Hawks were playing the second game of a back-to-back.