The Bulls team the Hawks faced on Tuesday are not championship contenders.
Superstar Derrick Rose (knee) is on the shelf, Luol Deng was sent to Cleveland in a January trade and Carlos Boozer (calf) didn’t suit up.
But regardless of lineup, the Bulls dutifully apply coach Tom Thibodeau’s smothering defensive philosophy. And they still had All-Star center Joakim Noah regulating the middle.
That was all too much for the Hawks, who fell 100-85 for their season-high fourth loss in a row. The Bulls won their six in a row against Atlanta at the United Center by dominating 57-28 in rebounding and getting everything from Noah.
The Hawks couldn’t do anything to counter Noah’s size, skill and energy. He recorded his fourth career triple double with 19 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists.
Noah sent the Bulls on their way with six points, six rebounds and six assists in the first quarter—topping Atlanta by himself in the latter two categories. The Hawks were down 33-17 after the period and by as many as 25 in the second before rallying with 33 points in the third.
Mike Scott’s 3-pointer cut Atlanta’s deficit to 87-79 with less than nine minutes to play in the game. The Hawks failed to score on their next nine possessions, though, and Chicago pushed the lead back to 93-79.
The Hawks are no slouches on defense and Chicago can struggle to score. But Atlanta allowed the Bulls too many extra possessions early—they collected eight of their 14 misses in the first quarter—and couldn’t slow Noah and Taj Gibson.
Gibson replaced Boozer in the lineup and had a game-high 24 points along with 12 rebounds while also offering a defensive upgrade. Even reserve guard D.J. Augustin had his way, scoring 13 points in 16 first-half minutes.
Forward Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 15 points. Reserve guard Lou Williams added 13 points and four assists.
The Hawks were down 33-17 after a quarter and by as many as 25 in the second period. They struggled to score around the basket against Noah and Gibson and couldn’t connect on many of the open shots they managed.
The Bulls were back home after a 3-3 trip against Western Conference opponents. The Bulls had been vulnerable at home lately with losses to the Timberwolves and Clippers in their last two but Atlanta lacks .
It wasn’t all bad for the Hawks: Kyle Korver extended his NBA record of consecutive games with a 3-pointer made to 119.