The Bulls' Derrick Rose (center) is fouled by Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia (left) as center Al Horford watches Wednesday, May 4, 2011, at the United Center. | AP Photo
Updated: May 5, 2011 2:07PM
The Bulls improved on defense, but still struggled on offense and battled their way to an 86-73 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at the United Center.
Derrick Rose, who was presented with the MVP trophy prior to the game, led the Bulls with 25 points, but shot 10-of-27 from the field. He also had 10 assists and six rebounds.
Joakim Noah added 19 points and 14 rebounds in a spirited performance. Luol Deng played well in the second half and finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Hawks, who shot 51 percent from the field in Game 1, missed 10 of their first 13 shots from the field in shot 34 percent (26-of-77) in Game 2. Jeff Teague scored 21 points to lead the Hawks. Joe Johnson, who scored 34 points in the opener, was held to 16 on 7-of-15 shooting.
Jamal Crawford, who scored 22 points in the opener, shot 2-of-10 from the field in Game 2 and scored 11 points.
The Bulls, though, struggled to put away the Hawks. The Bulls led 75-61 when Noah scored on a rebound with 6:50 to play. But Josh Smith converted a three-point play to cap an 8-0 run that cut the Bulls’ lead to 75-69 with 4:57 to play.
Deng scored on a drive and hit a tough shot off in the lane and Rose hit a pullup jumper to give the Bulls an 83-71 lead with 1:41 to play.
The Bulls continued to stumble on offense, but their defense helped them maintain a 65-58 lead after three quarters.
Joakim Noah fed Luol Deng cutting to the hoop for a layup as the Bulls took a 50-37 lead. Joe Johnson scored back-to-back hoops — the second one off a steal of a Rose pass intended for Bogans and Marvin Williams scored inside to cut the Bulls’ lead to 50-43 with 10:04 left in the quarter.
The Bulls’ defense continued to stymie the Hawks allowing the still out-of-sync offense to run off seven unanswered points for a 59-45 lead.
Deng hit two free throws and scored on a fast break. After Rose was short on a drive, Bogans nailed a three-pointer off a feed from Rose for the 14-point edge.
The Bulls stumbled to the end of the quarter, though. After Kurt Thomas beat the shot clock with a jumper off an inbounds pass from Taj Gibson to give the Bulls a 63-50 lead, the Hawks outscored the Bulls 8-2 the rest of the way to stay within seven points after three.
The Hawks shot 8-of-19 in the quarter. Johnson scored nine points in the quarter to give him 16 for the game on 7-of-13 shooting.
Rose scored six points on 1-of-5 shooting in the quarter to give him 18 fo the game, with seven assists after three. The bulls shot 7-of-21 from the field in the quarter.
The Bulls continued to struggle to take advantage of opportunities but still scrapped their way to a 48-37 halftime lead.
C.J. Watson hit a three-pointer in the first minute of the second quarter and Taj Gibson scored on a dunk off a loose ball underneath the basket. But that was about all the offense the Bulls bench provided.
Carlos Boozer continued to struggle to impact the game. He was called for a defensive three-seconds technical and when he got an offensive rebound and was ready to score, he was called for an imperceptible foul while getting the rebound.
But Boozer persevered, and with the aid of Rose, finally made a difference. Boozer scored twice inside off passes from Rose and hit an open 15-footer as the Bulls opened a 42-32 lead with 3:29 left in the half.
Joakim Noah, fouled after the Bulls scrapped to keep the ball alive, hit two free throws and Rose scored underneath to give the Bulls their largest lead of the series, 46-34 with 1:47 left in the half.
The Hawks shot 6-of-17 in the second quarter and 14-of-43 (33 percent) for the first half. Jeff Teague led them with 12 points in the half Joe Johnson scored seven on 3-of-7 shooting.
Rose led the Bulls at halftime with 16 points on 6-of-14 shooting with five assists and five rebounds. Noah added 12 points and eight rebounds. Luol Deng had two points on 1-of-5 shooting at halftime.
Derrick Rose finally made it to the free throw line and the Bulls held the Hawks to 7-of-22 shooting in the first quarter, but the Bulls needed five points from Rose in the final minute for a 24-19 lead after the first quarter.
The Hawks missed 13 of their first 16 shots, but still led 9-6 in the early going as the Bulls struggled on offense. Rose drove the baseline for a three-point play — his first free throw of the series — to give the Bulls their first lead at 11-8 with 6:13 to play in the quarter.
Jamal Crawford came off the bench to drive the lane unmolested for an easy hoop after a Hawks’ missed shot to give Atlanta a 17-15 lead with 4:02 left in the quarter.
But Keith Bogans hit a three-point shot and Ronnie Brewer hit a 17-footer that spun around and nearly out and then back in again.
After Damien Wilkins scored on a dunk for the Hawks, Rose was fouled on a fast break and hit two free throws and hit a three-pointer with 26 seconds left in the quarter for the 25-19 lead.
The Hawks shot 8-of-26 in the quarter (31 percent). Joe Johnson, who scored 34 points in the opener, scored five points on 2-of-4 shooting.
Rose, who was scoreless in the first quarter in Game 1, scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting to lea the Bulls, who shot 9-of-23 (39 percent).
The Bulls outrebounded the Hawks 16-13, though the Hawks stayed close by grabbing four offensive rebounds and committing just one turnover.