The 4OT thriller on Friday suggested both the Bulls and Hawks would be wiped for their matinee rematch less than 2 days later. But maybe it was just on defense, as the game featured a lot of scoring just like the first one.
Both teams received scoring contributions from everywhere, with 7 guys on each team notching double-digit point totals, with Atlanta notching an effective field goal percentage of 60.7 while Chicago wasn’t too far behind at 58.7.
There was a mality of shots taken. Atlanta had 42 attempts from downtown and knocked down 21 of them, making it 43 triples made against the Bulls in the last two games. Chicago meanwhile, just couldn’t get the three-ball to go down, hitting only 27.7% of their attempts (8 of 27). In the end, it was a 123-118 victory for Atlanta as the Bulls gained some ground back in the race for the 4th best odds in the draft.
The Hawks excelled from three-point range, going 21-42 (compared to the Bulls 8-27). Their barrage in this one mainly came from Trae Young, Jaylen Adams, and Alex Len. The trio shot a combined 12/19 from beyond the arc and took advantage of matchup problems and a scrambling Bulls defense.
While it’s expected from Young to be a threat from deep, the other two were a big surprise. Len had a career high in points and three-pointers made while Adams easily had the best game of his young career. With both Cristiano Felicio and Robin Lopez focused more on stopping Atlanta’s guards/drives into the paint, Len was almost being dared by the Chicago defense to shoot. To his credit, he was knocking them down.
The sequence above begins with Kevin Huerter taking a screen from Len at near the left side. Antonio Blakeney goes right around the screen and together with Felicio they double team Huerter at the top of the three-point line. We’ve seen this often from the Bulls against Atlanta where they will try and trap the guards off a pick and roll situation. Huerter is able to keep his dribble and then fires a one-handed pass to Vince Carter. As soon as he catches the ball, Carter points down and it seems like he wants a screen on Wayne Selden from one of his teammates. But the screener never shows up so Carter decides to dish the ball. While this is all happening, Len is camped out on the three-point line. After Huerter passes the ball, Felicio runs back into the middle of the paint and then realizes Len isn’t there. By the time this happens, Len already has caught a cross-court pass from Carter and has all the time in the world. De’Andre Bembry clears out of the way, taking Ryan Arcidiacono with him, which makes room for Len to shoot. Felicio is initially hesitant to come out and contest so by the time he does, Len is able to get set and fire from long range.
Below, the Hawks ball movement combined with miscommunication on the Bulls part leads to a wide-open three-point attempt from Young.
The play begins with Kent Bazemore at the top of the key getting a screen from Dewayne Dedmon on Zach LaVine. Lauri Markkanen takes the switch as Bazemore drives into the rim. LaVine is a bit late on the switch and allows Dedmon to go running into the paint. Seeing a wide open big man in the lane, Robin Lopez crashes down to protect the paint and in turn, leaves Len open in the corner. Bazemore sees it and swings a pass down the baseline towards him. Watching the play, Kris Dunn sees Bazemore make the pass and immediately runs over to cover Len. There is just one problem: LaVine is there too. It’s a clear mix-up and it leaves Young wide open on the three-point line. All Len has to do is swing it to him and with that much space, it’s an easy basket for Young.
The Bulls have struggled guarding Atlanta in previous matchups. Chicago seems fixated on not letting the guards of the Hawks beat them, often doubling Young and Huerter. In return however, this has left the other guys wide open on the three-point line. One game it was John Collins who did most of the damage and in this one (with Collins unavailable), it was Alex Len.