Hawks look to continue dominance versus Bulls (Jan 20, 2017)

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls haven’t squared off since Nov. 9, but they’ll get very familiar with each other over the next six days.

The teams meet in Atlanta on Friday and then in Chicago next Wednesday.

The Hawks, who have a five-game winning streak against the Bulls, won 115-107 at home in the first meeting as part of a 9-2 start that included a victory the night before in Cleveland.

Atlanta (24-18) then went into a 1-10 funk before recovering to post a 14-6 mark, with nine wins in the past 11 games.

The Hawks, though, are coming off a 118-95 loss at Detroit on Wednesday in which they trailed 42-18 after the first quarter and were down 54-24 in the second.

“They punched us, punched us hard,” said forward Paul Millsap, who was one of the few Hawks to play well with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “We weren’t able to come back from that.”

“We just didn’t come ready to play,” said guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who scored 10 points.

Chicago (21-22) is also coming off a loss, but a much different kind of one. The Bulls haven’t played since a 99-98 disappointment at home on Tuesday against Dallas when Wes Matthews won it for the Mavericks with a late 3-pointer.

“We were coming off one of our better performances of the year, but you’ve got to play 48 minutes in this league,” said coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team had won a Memphis the previous day.

Jimmy Butler had just put the Bulls ahead before Matthews outdid him for heroics. After being sidelined by the flu last week, the forward had his third straight strong game with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds.

“You’ve gotta maintain your body through the grind,” said Butler, who lost about 10 pounds while ill. “That’s what this job calls for. This is the dream that we wanted. Now that you have it, it’s what you have to put up with.”

Chicago reserve forward Nikola Mirotic returned against Dallas after missing four games with an illness, but the Bulls played without starter Taj Gibson, sidelined by left ankle soreness. Gibson could be available against the Hawks.

Mike Muscala, the first big man off the bench for Atlanta, has missed three games after spraining his left ankle against Boston last Friday. He is doubtful to play against Chicago.

Butler had 30 points and guard Dwyane Wade scored 25 for the Bulls in the first meeting for the Hawks, but Chicago received little else offensively.

The Bulls need another scorer, which brings attention to forward Doug McDermott. He had a career-best 31 points at Memphis, but scored just seven against Dallas as his inconsistency continued.

The Hawks outrebounded the Bulls 49-30 back in November, but were dominated on the boards in the loss at Detroit.

“I can’t remember the last time 60-32,” coach Mike Budenholzer said of the rebounding difference against the Pistons. “It’s just indicative. They were just better than us.”