Ten observations from Bulls 129, Hawks 122. . .
- This was a weird matinee game featuring two teams headed to the draft lottery and playing with makeshift lineups and selective defensive effort. The Hawks dominated early and the Bulls controlled the middle. The game tightened again late in the third quarter before the Bulls started raining 3-pointers. Then the Hawks started making 3-pointers, too, trimming a 112-101 lead at 4:43 to 118-115 on Taurean Prince's make with 1:26 to go. After Bulls forward Lauri Markannen made two free throws, Hawks center Dwayne Dedmon missed a 3-point try and Chicago held on for the victory.
- The Hawks lost wing players Kent Bazemore and Jaylen Morris to injuries within a few minutes of one another in the second quarter. Bazemore landed awkwardly after a jump and immediately limped off the floor to the locker room. Morris went down with a left ankle injury when he landed on one of Denzel Valentine's feet.
- Those injuries left the Hawks with just nine available players, included two true small forwards (Prince and Andrew White III) and shooting guard Tyler Dorsey. Coach Mike Budenholzer started Dorsey in place of Bazemore to begin the second half.
- The NBA reportedly warned the Bulls about resting healthy players, also known as tanking. After making a mockery of that warning in the lost at Detroit, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was at it again. He played center Robin Lopez for the entire first quarter and then put him on the bench for good. Justin Holiday got a DNP-CD. Meanwhile, the Hawks sat Dennis Schroder (elbow) and had three of four healthy starters on the floor to finish the game.
- The Bulls offered very little resistance from the tip. The Hawks raced out to a 24-8 lead. The Bulls got back in it with their bench players, who were noticeably more willing than the starters. Valentine and Bobby Portis were the main catalysts. The Bulls went on a 21-5 run to gain their first lead of the game at 41-39 and were up 53-50 at half. Budenholzer: "First quarter, a lot of good things for us. They just flipped the script in the second quarter. I thought or offense contributed to us being poor defensively in the second quarter. We didn't move the ball the way we needed to against their pressure and their traps."
- Prince, fresh off his second-half benching at Indiana, erupted for a career-high 38 points (17 shots, 7-for-13 on 3-pointers) with seven assists and six rebounds. He was in attack mode from the start. In eight first-quarter minutes Prince had 10 points (five shots), five rebounds and two assists. Prince's movement and decisiveness led to plenty of prime offensive chances against Chicago's sleepy defense.
- Mike Muscala made 5 of 6 3-point tries to improve to 38-for-93 (41.0 percent) on the season. After some shaky shooting early in the year he's got a chance to top his career-high 41.8 percent on threes from 2016-17.
- With Schroder out, Isaiah Taylor got the start alongside normal starters Bazemore, Prince, John Collins and Dedmon. Taylor sometimes fell back into his habit of not aggressively looking to score but did produce seven points on seven shots and eight assists against three turnovers.
- After a strong garbage-time performance against the Pacers on Friday, Dorsey had seven points on 11 shots in 28 minutes (1-for-7 on 3-pointers, no free-throw attempts).
- Hawks point guard Josh Magette played a career-high 22 minutes and had eight assists with one turnover. Magette appeared over-matched during one poor stretch in the first half but then recovered to create good moments running screen-rolls and finding teammates on cuts and spot-ups.
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