Game Report: Hawks reduce magic number to one with win over Bulls

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.