Bulls beat Hawks without 3 starters
BY CHARLES ODUM Associated Press February 2, 2013 8:30PM
Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) scores against Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford (15) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Updated: February 2, 2013 9:54PM
ATLANTA — Luol Deng and Taj Gibson were exhausted and determined to stay on the floor. They kept playing in the final minutes, long after the Chicago Bulls had secured another win.
Deng said the starters in a patchwork lineup were determined to finish what they started.
Deng had 25 points and 14 rebounds, and the short-handed Bulls used their stifling defense to shut down the Atlanta Hawks in a 93-76 victory on Saturday night.
Playing without injured starters Kirk Hinrich, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer, Chicago dominated near the basket and got a lift from the frenetic play of Nate Robinson. The Bulls used only eight players for the second straight night, but it was more than enough for an impressive road win.
Deng, Gibson and Jimmy Butler each logged more than 45 minutes. Robinson topped 40 minutes as the Bulls had a strong answer for their 89-83 loss at the Nets on Friday night.
“We spoke before the game about how hard we played,” Deng said of the loss to the Nets. “We were happy with it but we just told each other if we play hard and we don’t win we don’t get rewarded for that. So we definitely wanted to finish the whole game, the whole 48 minutes.”
Gibson had 19 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.
“They kept giving me electrolytes during the game but I just kept wanting to play,” Gibson said. “I know late in the game I ran out of gas and I didn’t want that to happen tonight because I felt like we let one slide last night and this team is even better. So I had to go out there and just play a little harder.”
Butler added another double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Robinson went 4 for 6 from 3-point range and finished with 20 points.
The Hawks had no answer for Deng, who had five assists, four steals and two blocks. He had seven offensive rebounds.
“Luol was Luol, hitting big shots, grabbing rebounds and guarding everyone on the floor,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Josh Smith led Atlanta with 19 points and 13 rebounds but his only basket in the second half was a 3-pointer. Jeff Teague scored 16, and Al Horford had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
Hawks coach Larry Drew was frustrated his players couldn’t match the energy of a banged-up Chicago team playing away from home for the second straight night.
“We did not respond in tonight’s game,” Drew said. “From a physical standpoint, they absolutely manhandled us.”
Thibodeau said Hinrich had a procedure in Chicago on Saturday to have an infection cleaned out of his right elbow. The guard is expected to miss about a week.
Noah was held out with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Boozer participated in pregame wamups but was not in uniform due to a right hamstring injury.
The lack of depth didn’t hurt Chicago’s defense. The Bulls, who held Atlanta to 20 first-half points in a 97-58 win on Jan. 14 in Chicago, again frustrated the Hawks.
Atlanta made only 6 of 19 3-point attempts and shot 39.2 percent from the field overall.
“They came out and just forced their will the whole game,” Horford said. “They dominated.
“They were by far the more aggressive team. You’ve got to give them credit. They really took it to us today.”
The Hawks also were less than full strength. Guard Devin Harris was in uniform but did not play due to a sore left foot. Backup center Zaza Pachulia was held out with a sore right Achilles.
Atlanta had a scare when Teague left in the first quarter with a right hip contusion. He returned in the second quarter and started the second half.
The Hawks led 44-43 at halftime, thanks to a jam by Smith following a DeShawn Stevenson steal. The Bulls scored the first eight points of the third and closed the period with six unanswered points to lead 69-60 entering the final period.
Marco Belinelli’s jumper pushed the Bulls’ lead to double figures for the first time at 72-62. Deng’s 3-pointer ran the lead to 11, prompting Drew to call a timeout with 7:41 remaining.
The Bulls continued to pull away with 3s by Deng and Butler after the timeout.
NOTES: Deng, Butler and Gibson combined for 60 points and 43 rebounds as the Bulls had a 54-45 advantage in rebounds. ... Hawks G Anthony Morrow made his first appearance since Dec. 28. He had been out with a sore lower back. ... The Hawks signed G Jannero Pargo to a second 10-day contract. Pargo missed each of his six shots from the field, including four 3-pointers. ... Stevenson, the fill-in starter for Harris, scored only two points while making one of six shots.