Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks: Game Analysis

The Chicago Bulls fall to the Atlanta Hawks despite a combined 65 points from Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade.

From the tip in Atlanta on Wednesday night, Jimmy Butler kept the Bulls close with a little help from fellow guard Dwyane Wade.

Jimmy poured in 24 points in the first half, dropping in four treys and getting to the line time and time again. Wade started off hot as well, scoring 17 with a couple of threes as well.

Again, Chicago’s outside shooting came from the unusual suspects — Butler, Wade and Rajon Rondo combined for all seven made 3-pointers. Nikola Mirotic missed both of his attempts, and Doug McDermott didn’t even get a shot up in the early going.

Silly turnovers and struggling to rebound defensively comprised the majority of the Bulls’ issues in the first two quarters against the Hawks. Atlanta’s big men, Dwight Howard and Mike Muscala, collected five offensive boards between the two, leading to several second-chance opportunities.

Hawks wing Thabo Sefolosha went on a 7-0 run by himself to pull Atlanta ahead by six at the end of the first period, but continued his reign of terror of the Bulls’ defense early on in the second, knocking in a couple free throws, burying a couple

threes and nailing a pull-up jumper. He would finish with 20 points.

Wade went on a run of his own, stealing a couple errant Hawks passes for easy layups and fighting his way through Atlanta’s defense and to the foul line.

The Bulls closed in on the Hawks at half, drawing within seven going into the locker room. Atlanta’s offensive identity, founded in ball movement and shooting, juxtaposed the Bulls’ reliance on Butler and Wade early, as the Hawks shot lights out with 15 assists as compared to Chicago’s 10.

Wade and Butler gave the Bulls an edge with a couple jumpers early on in the third. Chicago extended their advantage to five points over the next several minutes, but their run was Atlanta’s own. Between Dwight Howard uncharacteristically sinking four foul shots, and Tim Hardaway Jr. scoring several times in a flurry, Atlanta took a six point edge into the final period.

The Bulls stagnated offensively in the first couple minutes of the fourth, allowing the Hawks’ lead to grow to double digits. Both baskets and bad offensive possessions were exchanged midway through the final quarter. With Jimmy and Dwyane providing a majority of the offense all game, and their shots faltering late, the Bulls called to role players to step up, a call which was not answered. Bobby Portis was a complete non-factor, committing a traveling violation and looking out of sorts on offense.

Chicago was able to pull within two after a McDermott floater, but it would be as close as they would get. Dwight Howard threw down an alley-oop, the Bulls’ shots were blocked on back-to-back possessions, Sefolosha and Kent Bazemore scored for the Hawks, lengthening the margin to seven with only two minutes remaining.

The Bulls tried to make another push, but it wasn’t happening. They tried a variety of substitutions to find a way, but in the end, the Hawks were simply too much, winning 115-107.

Jimmy Butler finished the game with 39 points, a season-high, on 54.2% shooting from the field and 44.4% from deep. He led the team with seven assists and six steals as well. Dwyane Wade finished with 25 points and five steals as well.

The biggest disparity between the Bulls and Hawks tonight was the difference in contribution down the roster, especially off the bench. Atlanta had eight players in double-figures as compared to the Bull’s three, which will surely be of importance for Chicago moving forward.

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