The Bulls had good reason to be optimistic when they started their Monday night home game against the Atlanta Hawks. It just didn’t end optimistically.
The Bulls lost 102-100, falling below .500 and further ruining their chances at making the playoffs.
They opened the game with an 8-0 lead: Derrick Rose got the first points of the game with a 19-foot jumper, and Pau Gasol buried a couple of jumpers to bring the Bulls’ point total to eight. Then, back-to-back buckets from Taj Gibson gave the Bulls the 12-3 lead, forcing Atlanta head coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout.
For once, the Bulls had opened a game strong.
It didn’t last long, though. Kyle Korver made two 3-pointers coming out of the timeout, and Al Horford slammed home a two-handed dunk after Jimmy Butler missed a right corner three. This cut the Bulls lead to one.
But the Bulls responded to the Hawks’ small run well, scoring four quick points. They then held onto their lead long enough to extend it later in the quarter, taking advantage of the Hawks’ second unit and their inefficient play. This positioned the Bulls to take nine-point, 31-22 lead into the second quarter.
The Bulls’ second quarter didn’t turn out anywhere near as great, though.
Thanks to the Hawks’ slow start in the second quarter, the Bulls maintained their lead for most of the quarter. But once the Hawks’ starters got back into the game, the Bulls had more difficulties maintaining such a lead. As a result, the Hawks then went on a 15-0 run to take the 43-40 lead.
The Bulls’ once 13-point lead had been erased.
To make matters worse for the home team, Paul Millsap found his shot and scored the Hawks’ last seven points of the half, giving the Hawks the 52-45 lead.
The Bulls’ woeful play continued on into the third quarter, but, after trailing by 15 points, they found a glimpse of hope in the fourth quarter.
In the heart of the fourth, Rose scored four points to bring the Bulls’ deficit to nine points. Then, coming out of a timeout, Butler buried a three followed by a fast-break dunk from Gasol. The dunk not only changed the momentum of the game, but it also made the Bulls trail 90-86.
Aaron Brooks had the hot hand, scoring seven points to tie the game at 93, but he didn’t score again afterwards.
Butler completed a four-point play with 19 seconds left in the game after a 5-0 Hawks run, bringing the score to 98-97, but the Bulls couldn’t muster up anything from there.
To put it simply, the Bulls just ran out of gas and dug themselves into too big of a hole after a 14-point second quarter.
Ashley is the owner/editor of The Bulls Charge. Follow her on Twitter at @wijangco12.