Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks Analysis: What was that?

The Chicago Bulls got back in the mix after a couple days off when they visited the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. It was all hands on deck for this matchup, but would it be enough? Not even close.

To be honest, I watched most of the first quarter on my phone while I was waiting for my takeout, because it literally took the place an hour to get my order right and made. So, there’s always that.

The starting lineup for the Bulls couldn’t get anything done early on. This was almost entirely due to smart game planning from the Hawks. Not only did ball screens not work, which have been a total joke from Fred Hoiberg’s squad anyway, but they were chasing the ballhandler into the lane as a double team, forcing poor shots or a kick out to a poor perimeter shooter. Basically, they played defense against Chicago exactly how every disciplined, skilled or prepared team should.

As for the offense, Atlanta shot 15-for-19 as a team in the first quarter. Again, they planned for this team. As soon as Rondo was brought in the game, it was an ATO BLOB where they screened for Rondo’s man and immediate he was free and hit the shot. They basically put the game out of reach right away. To seal the deal, they got a bankshot from Tim Hardaway, Jr. at the buzzer to cap a 35-point opening quarter.

Things did not get any better in the second quarter. The Bulls committed an atrocious number of turnovers, 13 total in the first half. Everything looked bad. They were slow, sloppy, missed a lot of shots and the only thing stopping Atlanta was Atlanta. Mike Dunleavy got some action against his old team. He didn’t start hot, but he got a lot of good looks. The defense made him look younger and more athletic, and then he hit a 3-pointer.

The Bulls opened the second half by repeating the mistakes of the first half – clumsy turnover. It was probably the most boring quarter as Chicago couldn’t quite keep pace yet again, but they only lost the quarter by one point. Still, as the game went on, they fell as far as 34 points behind to a Hawks team that just dumped Kyle Korver, waived Mo Williams and was shopping Paul Millsap. Think about that.

In the fourth quarter, the Bulls went on a run. After getting run for three quarters, they outscored Atlanta 24-6 over the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter. The problem is that run still left them down by 12 points, 93-81.

In the land of the bizarre, up to the final two minutes Jimmy Butler had a plus-minus of minus-23 and Dwyane Wade was minus-18. Conversely, Bobby Portis, Jerian Grant and Paul Zipser were all more than plus-20. What in the name of chili cheese dogs was that all about? With 1:07 left, a Portis slam made it 95-90.

After clawing back to within in five points, the Hawks pushed the lead back to 10 points. It was a strange matchup where the starting lineup got absolutely shelled and never bounced back and then the bench made a run and turned the score respectable.

A loss is a loss and the Bulls deserved it. They played a terrible game and paid for it, adding another one to the loss column.

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