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Record-setting night for Bulls in 97-58 thrashing of Hawks

Bulls center Joakim Noah grabs one his 16 rebounds second half Chicago Bulls 97-58 wover AtlantHawks Monday January 14 2013

Bulls center Joakim Noah grabs one of his 16 rebounds in the second half of the Chicago Bulls 97-58 win over the Atlanta Hawks Monday January 14, 2013 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 16, 2013 6:28AM



Forget the dry board and the hours of watching film, it was time for Tom Thibodeau to unleash a new coaching tactic on his team Monday morning.

Call it scared straight.

“In the walk-through, his face, the tension in his eyes, the way he was just looking at everybody in their eyes, he was just raging, he was raging [Monday] morning,’’ Bulls big man Taj Gibson said. “He basically said, ‘It’s my job to really focus and get us better,’ and he said that he felt like he was slipping because he understands that we need to play harder, work harder, because every game in this league is tough to win.

“He really dug into guys. He looked at everyone straight eye-to-eye and got them to understand that. There was no joking around in here [Monday], it was serious.’’

Whatever it was it worked, and the unfortunate victim of Thibodeau’s Intimidation 101 was an Atlanta Hawks team that looked as if they have quit on their coach Larry Drew, as well as each other. The Bulls humiliated the Hawks 97-58 at the United Center.

“This was very, very embarrassing,’’ Drew said. “We have lost all sense of being a team. I don’t know why, but we have lost that sense of trust.’’

Throw in all sense of scoring for the Hawks, as the Bulls (21-15) rewrote the record books for defensive prowess:

◆ Franchise record for the fewest points allowed in a game, beating the mark of 59 at Orlando last season.

◆ Franchise record for the fewest points allowed in a half by holding the Hawks to 20 in the first 24 minutes.

◆ Franchise record for limiting the Hawks to a .205 shooting percentage in a half, with Atlanta going 8-for-39 in the first.

◆ Tied a franchise record for fewest points in a quarter, holding the Hawks to five in the second.

Thibodeau promised a change after a loss to the Phoenix Suns dropped the Bulls to 10-10 at home, and while the lineup and bench rotation stayed the same, the fire that Thibodeau lit under his players was obviously turned up a few degrees.

“We’re still striving to be a 48-minute team, we got a long way to go, but this was a step in the right direction,’’ Thibodeau said. “We’re short-handed, so we can’t exhale. We have to grind for 48 minutes and do that day after day.’’

Playing with high intensity didn’t just stop on the defensive side of the court. In the third quarter, the Hawks’ Devin Harris appeared to body check Kirk Hinrich in mid-air, sending him flying to the ground. Hinrich quickly got up and had to be restrained and Harris picked up a flagrant-1 foul.

Asked if it were dirty, Hinrich said he would have to watch it on film. Asked why he went after Harris he said, “It was just my initial reaction.’’

Thibodeau wanted fight from his team? He got it ­— and then some.

“It was a helpless feeling sitting there,’’ Drew said. “The disturbing thing is a lack of effort. I’ve got to find a way to resuscitate this thing.’’



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