Now that the Chicago Bulls have ended their four-game losing streak, they will seek a little revenge when they visit the Atlanta Hawks for the second time in 10 days on Wednesday.
The Bulls beat the host Miami Heat 113-103 on Tuesday and will try to even the score against the Hawks, who started them on their recent downward path. The Hawks beat the Bulls 123-122 in overtime on Dec. 11 when Atlanta rookie AJ Griffin scored on a last-second shot. The Bulls have lost seven of their past 10 games.
Griffin became the first rookie since Chicago’s Toni Kukoc (1993-94) and the first Hawks player in the past 25 years to produce multiple game-winning shots in a season.
Atlanta has won two in a row after hanging on to beat the visiting Orlando Magic 126-125 on Monday but continues to have trouble putting away games in which it holds a big lead. The Hawks led by 12 points with 3:05 left against Orlando but surrendered the lead by allowing 13 unanswered points.
Atlanta was able to salvage the game when Dejounte Murray was fouled and hit two free throws with 1.3 seconds left.
“We’ll take the win, of course,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “But we know we’ve got to be better and we’ve got to finish better in order to continue to win ballgames.”
Trae Young scored 37 points, his second straight 30-point performance, but drew a technical foul after draining a long 3-pointer to give the Hawks a 124-112 lead. The technical seemed to stop Atlanta’s momentum, and Young committed a turnover and missed three shots in the aftermath that contributed to Orlando’s momentum.
“That game was in our hands,” McMillan said. “It’s just a matter of executing, understanding what you need to do, what plays you need to run and finishing the game … defending, doing the things that got you that lead late in the fourth … not just relaxing and playing as if the game’s over.”
The Bulls bounced back on Tuesday after taking a 150-126 beating from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday in Minneapolis. It was the fourth-most points Chicago has given up in regulation and the most since the Bulls allowed 152 against the Detroit Pistons on Nov. 3, 1982.
“It’s always great to win, but it’s more about how you play,” Chicago coach Billy Donovan said after the victory at Miami. “How you play as a group and how you play as a team. It was great to see their hard work rewarded because I felt they put a lot of effort into the game.”
Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 12 rebounds for his 14th double-double, DeMar DeRozan had 24 points and Zach LaVine scored 21 against the Heat.
“It was good to get a win, get that positive feeling a little bit, especially after that very tough, terrible loss,” Vucevic said. “It was needed. Hopefully we can learn from this.”
Chicago’s Derrick Jones Jr. left the Tuesday game in the third quarter due to a left ankle sprain and did not return.
Atlanta’s Clint Capela (right calf strain) will miss his third consecutive game on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media