Bulls seek to reverse dominance by Hawks
ATLANTA — The Chicago Bulls hope their ability to get off to a good start can help them break a four-game losing streak against the Atlanta Hawks when the clubs meet Wednesday at Philips Arena.
The Bulls (4-3) followed the quick-start recipe on Monday in a 112-80 win over Orlando and will try to carry that philosophy over against a Hawks team that swept four games from them last season.
“Need to get off to a good start,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When we do that, we generally play a good game.”
Chicago used a 15-0 run to take control of the game against Orlando and outscored the Magic 27-11 in the third quarter to put the game away. The Bulls got 20 points from Jimmy Butler in the win, which broke a three-game losing streak.
Atlanta (5-2) is coming off a 110-106 road win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday. The Hawks had three players top 20 points: point guard Dennis Schroder with 28, guard Kent Bazemore with 25 and forward Paul Millsap with 21.
The 28 points was a career high for Schroder, who signed a four-year, $70 million contract extension just prior to the season opener. Schroder also had six assists against the Cavs.
“Dennis talks a lot of trash, but (Tuesday) he didn't say anything,” center Dwight Howard said. “He went and attacked the basket and we got a good win.”
Howard scored only seven points, breaking a streak of four straight double-doubles. But he had 17 rebounds and prevented Cleveland's Tristan Thompson from getting any inside points. Howard has adapted to his role as a defensive stopper and has shown he isn't afraid to mix it up. He took a shot on Tuesday that required four stitches on his lip.
“My job is to enforce the paint and as long as we get a win, it doesn't matter how much I score,” Howard said. “My job is to make sure they don't get but one shot at a time. That will help our team win.”
Chicago's defense was noticeably better against the Magic. The Bulls allowed a season-low 80 points and stopped a three-game stretch that had seen them allow 107 or more points in each game.
“We're not going to win too many ball games if our defense is not doing what it did,” guard Dwyane Wade said.
Wade will be making his Chicago debut in Atlanta. He has a career average of 22.1 points and 5.8 assists in 38 games against the Hawks when he played for Miami.
Wade is joined in the starting lineup by point guard Rajon Rondo, center Robin Lopez and forwards Taj Gibson and Butler. The Bulls have five players who average in double figures, led by Butler (21.0), Wade (16.9) and Gibson 12.1).
The Hawks won all four meetings against the Bulls last season for the first time since 2008-09. But Jeff Teague, who led the team in scoring in two wins, and Al Horford, the top scorer in another game, are both playing for other teams.