A depleted Chicago Bulls team hung around for a majority of Friday night's contest in Atlanta, but in the end just didn't have enough as the Hawks took the win 103-88. In what has been a constant for the past two seasons, depleted team or not, the Hawks are just an overall poor matchup for the Bulls. Their fluidity offensively, and really the general ball movement they produce is always too much much for a Bulls team that struggles communicating defensively.
Tonight's game was certainly an eye-sore, to say the least, as both teams started off lethargic. However the Hawks pick-and-roll involving one of Paul Millsap and Al Horford with Jeff Teague, hurt the Bulls early on, planting two quick fouls on E'Twaun Moore in the first quarter. Meanwhile, Tony Snell was tasked with the tough job of guarding Kyle Korver, or attempting to at least, and boy did he struggle. And it's nothing personal with Snell, but at this point is he even a legitimate NBA player anymore? The poor kid has absolutely zero confidence, and is hurting the team more than helping.
Both teams combined to shoot 1-17 on three's, the Hawks themselves going 1-11. The first quarter came to an end with Atlanta sporting a five point lead 26-21. As the second period began, the Bulls offense was horrendous, as they turned the ball over nine times before the halfway point. On the opposite end, the Hawks were scoring at will in the paint, as the Bulls frontcourt was offering little resistance. Although, once Doug McDermott entered the game, he seemed to provide a slight spark in the team. With a couple points from McDermott, combined with Aaron Brooks, the Bulls managed to climb back in the game heading into halftime down 51-44. Still, both teams went a combined 3-30 from long range, with the Bulls going 1-10. HOIBALL!
With the second half underway, Atlanta began sinking their three's which inevitably, made it that much tougher for the Bulls to climb themselves within a chance of winning. At one point, the Hawks opened up an 18 point lead, as the three's were falling and Moore was struggling to contain Jeff Teague on the drive. But again, Brooks came back with a spurt towards the end of the period, a quick 7-0, to get the Bulls briefly back in the game. That was, until Atlanta pushed the lead back to 13 in response following a timeout. Turnovers continued to plague the Bulls as the Hawks took a 79-67 lead heading into the fourth.
In the final quarter, a short-handed Bulls team did what they could, but ultimately just wasn't enough. Atlanta's ball movement, and finally hitting their three's doomed Chicago. Pau Gasol struggled mightily, which should be noted, going 6-22 from the floor. The Hawks are just an awful, awful matchup for him. If there was one, lone bright spot tonight, it was McDermott once more. Finishing with 20 points on 6-13 shooting with five boards, has made significant contributions ever since Fred Hoiberg gave him the "confidence talk." Whatever he said to him is obviously working, and he's quickly become one of the very few reasons to continue watching this Bulls squad.
The Bulls are at it again tomorrow night against the Portland Trailblazers in Chicago at 7pm CT. If Derrick Rose can't go again, which seems likely, the Bulls may be in for another very long night against the dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.