The Hawks continued their recent mastery of the Bulls on Monday.
But they sure made it interesting.
The Hawks defeated the Bulls, 102-100, at the United Center to complete a four-game season sweep. It’s the Hawks second season sweep of the Bulls since moving to Atlanta in 1968-69 including winning all three games in 2008-09.
The Hawks led by as many as 15 points in the game and held a 13-point advantage, 86-73, early in the fourth quarter. The Bulls then went on a 20-7 run and tied the game, 93-93, on an Aaron Brooks layup with 1:39 remaining. The Hawks scored the next five points from the free-throw line to take a 98-93 lead.
Then it got even more interesting.
Jimmy Butler converted a four-point play after being fouled by Paul Millsap on a made 3-pointer with 19.6 seconds remaining. Suddenly the Hawks’ lead was down to one point.
The Hawks’ Kyle Korver made a pair of free throws with 13.6 seconds left. After the Bulls’ Mike Dunleavy missed inside and Millsap grabbed the rebound, Jeff Teague made a pair of free throws with 6.6 seconds left for the win. The Bulls’ Derrick Rose hit a too-little, too-late 3-pointer at the buzzer for the final margin.
“The four-point play, we actually talked about what might happen,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It was very close to that. They still got us on a pump fake, made the shot, made the free throw. When you are up five, you can’t make those kinds of mistakes.
The Hawks (45-30) have won four straight, nine out of 10 and 12 out of 15 games. They reduced their magic number to clinch a ninth straight playoff appearance to just one. Any Hawks win or Wizards loss will complete the playoff push.
Teague led the Hawks with a game-high 26 points. Al Horford (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (11 points, 11 rebounds) had double-doubles. Kent Bazemore grabbed two big fourth-quarter rebounds when the Hawks needed defensive stops the most.
The Hawks maintained their third-place position in the Eastern Conference with seven games remaining in the regular season.
“We played with a lot of pace tonight,” Teague said. “It played into our hands, playing a little faster. Those guys have so many big guys and we were able to get in the paint and make plays.”
The Bulls (36-37) have lost four straight and took another blow to their fading playoff chances. Rose finished with 20 points.
The Hawks end a three-game road trip at the Raptors on Wednesday.
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