The Bulls beat the Hawks by 20 points in Atlanta earlier this season in one of their best performances of this disappointing year. With the Hawks in town the night after a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Heat, the Bulls took advantage of their schedule advantage and wrecked Atlanta yet again, 136-102.
It was a historic night:
The Bulls have 136 points, the most they've ever scored in a regulation game at the United Center.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) December 12, 2019
Zach LaVine’s red-hot shooting led a red-hot Bulls team that shot 57.4% from the field and 11-of-24 from 3-land. LaVine poured in 35 points on 12-of-16 shooting and 7-of-7 on 3-pointers:
Zach LaVine shot 7/7 from behind the arc, the 20th time a player has been perfect from behind the arc when attempting 7 or more threes in a game in NBA history, the first since Kyrie Irving (7/7) on March 12, 2015.— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) December 12, 2019
This is the second time this season in which LaVine has responded from a rock bottom moment with some ridiculously hot shooting. Remember, his historic Hornets explosion came the night after he was yanked early against the Heat, and this big game comes after he faltered in a big way late against the Raptors.
The Bulls actually didn’t get off to the best of starts in this game, with the Hawks going up by eight points in the first quarter as Trae Young picked apart their defense with his passing. Alex Len and Cam Reddish were pouring in buckets, and nightmares of a hideous loss flashed before my eyes.
The Bulls quickly flipped the script, though, going on a 14-0 run thanks in large part to Denzel Valentine making four floaters as he continues to play well off the bench. The Bulls led 37-33 after one quarter and kept the Hawks at arm’s length in the second quarter before finishing the half on a 10-0 run to take a 66-52 lead into the break. The run was punctuated by Kris Dunn eating Trae Young’s lunch with a pick-pocket, resulting in a Shaquille Harrison dunk on the other end just a tick before the buzzer.
The Bulls then scored at will in the third quarter, pouring in 40 points as LaVine and Co. simply couldn’t miss. He had 17 points on 5-of-6 shooting (4-of-4 from 3) in the quarter as Chicago shot 15-of-20 as a team:
The Bulls have reached the 100 point mark in the 3rd quarter for the first time since April 14, 2008 against Milwaukee (120-101, ended 151-135).— Jeff Mangurten (@JeffGurt) December 12, 2019
The fourth quarter was all garbage time as the Hawks quit and the Bulls ran up the score, getting easy basket after easy basket.
Naturally, the Bulls got stellar performances from up and down the lineup. Lauri Markkanen continues to show signs of life this month with 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting:
Lauri Markkanen has shown signs of life and his old form in December.— Cody Westerlund (@CodyWesterlund) December 12, 2019
In 6 games this month, he's averaging 18.7 points on 52.6% shooting and 43.5% 3-point shooting.
Wendell Carter Jr. added a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Dunn helped hold Young to 15 points on 4-of-14 shooting (1-of-6 from 3) and seven turnovers. Young did have 13 assists, but he never got comfortable as he struggled again versus Chicago.
Off the bench, Coby White had 19 points despite not making a 3-pointer. Thaddeus Young stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals. Valentine didn’t do much scoring after his four straight floaters (10 points for the game), but he racked up five assists, four steals, three rebounds and two blocks The Bulls had 15 steals as the Hawks turned the ball over a whopping 23 times, leading to 36 points.
The Bulls have played their share of ugly basketball this season, but they’ve been absolutely dominant against the Hawks. While Atlanta is one of the worst defensive teams I’ve ever seen, at least the home Bulls didn’t mess around against a bum team like we’ve seen in other games recently. They never let up once they got a big lead and simply embarrassed the tired visitors.
The Bulls are now 9-17 and have another game against the Hornets on Friday.