Hawks Fall Two Wins Short Of Conference Finals, Bulls Win 93-73

The Hawks had a chance to force a Game 7, but the Chicago Bulls shut down Philips Arena for the season.

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Hawks Vs. Bulls Game 5 Final Score: Derrick Rose Leads Chicago To 95-83 Win; Bulls Take 3-2 Series Lead

The Atlanta Hawks gave the Chicago Bulls all they had for three quarters. Then the Bulls decided to play defense.

Derrick Rose had 33 points and nine assists and Taj Gibson netted 11 in the crucial final quarter as Chicago charged to a hard-fought 95-83 win over Atlanta in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup on Tuesday night at the United Center.

Luol Deng posted 23 points and Carlos Boozer and Keith Bogans added 11 each for the Bulls, who took a critical 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

The Hawks must now close out the series with two consecutive wins over a Bulls team that hasn't lost back-to-back games since early February -- a very tough road, indeed.

Atlanta clawed back into this one, erasing a 15 point deficit with a strong and somewhat testy third quarter, which included a skirmish between Josh Smith and Boozer. Smith, who sparred with Boozer after a dunk cut the lead to 61-60 with 4:07 left in the third, drained a 22-foot jumper to give Atlanta a 64-63 lead with 1:45 left in the frame.

The Hawks posted their last lead on Zaza Pachulia's jumper late in the third before one of the league's best team decided to play a little defense. Bulls Coach Tom Thibodeau went with a lineup that included Rose, Deng, Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik down the stretch against a tired Hawks team that simply did not have an answer.

Chicago went on an 11-2 run to take a 78-70 edge on a layup by Rose with 8:29 left and never looked back. The Hawks went to their tried-and-failed take-a-bad-jumper offense and wilted down the stretch. As the pressure mounted, the shot selection was lacking. The passes were not as crisp. The rotation not as sharp. The baskets came too early. As a result, the Hawks will have the unenviable task of trying to close out the No. 1 seeded Bulls with two straight wins. 

Yes, the Hawks were victimized on a bad non-call when Jeff Teague stole the ball and was tackled by Rose and could have gotten back into the game there. But fans of Atlanta's basketball team can not fault the refs for their team's fourth quarter demise. The Hawks simply did not make the adjustments they needed to when the Bulls ratcheted up the pressure on defense.

For a while, this one looked like it was going to be a battle. Smith was effective inside, posting 16 points in this one. Once again, Teague had a strong game, netting 21. And also Atlanta got an unexpected performance from Pachulia. Zaza, who scored just 12 points in the first four games of the series, finished with 13. He was most effective in the second quarter  as a 15-point deficit was whittled down to just six at the break.

But ultimately it was too much Rose, too much Gibson and not enough Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford.

Atlanta's two offensive spark plugs were silenced once again by Chicago's help defense. Johnson and Crawford connected for just 17 points on 7-for-24 shooting from the field in this one, which is definitely not enough to get the job done.

The Hawks are a team that live and die by the jumper and the energy that Johnson and Crawford provide. Without that in this one, Atlanta could not withstand a late Chicago run. As a result, it's the Bulls that have a chance to close out the series in Game 6 on Thursday night at the Highlight Factory.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.


Hawks Vs. Bulls Game 4 Final Score: Josh Smith Leads Hawks To 100-88 Win Over Bulls, Ties Series At 2

The Highlight Factory was abuzz with chants of "ATL! ATL!" as the hometown Atlanta Hawks dribbled out the basketball in the final seconds of a successful Game 4.

Josh Smith, who had a game for the ages, brushed his hands over the word "Hawks" on his jersey, signaling that Atlanta's basketball team is back in this series. All it took was 23 points,16 boards and eight assists from the Hawks' enigmatic leader to get them there.

Smith had his best game of the postseason and Joe Johnson added 24 to lead the Hawks to a shocking 100-88 win over the Chicago Bulls in their Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup on Sunday night at Philips Arena.

Al Horford netted 20 points and Jeff Teague and Jamal Crawford had 12 points each for Atlanta, which goes back to the Windy City for Game 5 on Tuesday with the series knotted at 2-2.

"I was just trying to be aggressive," Smith told TNT's David Aldridge afterward. "I'm an athletic person. I have to go up strong and if I get fouled, I have to drain my free throws."

Atlanta and Chicago were engaged in an intense battle down the stretch and were locked in an 84-84 tie with 4:31 left in the game when Derrick Rose, who was not given his customary fourth quarter blow, drove to the rim for a layup. But the Hawks, who couldn't quite get the separation they needed to pull away in this one, dug down deep and had one last run in them.

Teague slashed to the hoop. Horford converted at the bucket and Crawford drained a 3-pointer as the Hawks closed out Game 4 with a 16-4 run for the much-needed win.

In the middle of it all was Smith, who was dishing the basketball, hitting the shot in the block and providing energy on both sides of the floor by grabbing the loose ball. The Hawks are at their best when J-Smoove is playing within himself and for the most part in this one, he was playing his game.

As a result, Atlanta won a second round playoff game at home for the first time since Game 4 against the Orlando Magic in 1996 and postseason basketball will be coming back to the Highlight Factory at least one more time this season.

"We know what (Smith) brings to the table," a jubilant Hawks coach Larry Drew said afterward. "When he's rebounding and running the floor and pushing the basketball, that's who he is. He has an ability, a very unique ability, he has an ability to impact the game on both sides of the floor. When he's playing energized basketball, he's really good. And tonight he was that."

Atlanta will also return to Chicago on Tuesday with renewed confidence that they can control the inside game and keep Rose in check.

While Rose got his points, posting a game-high 34, he was pestered all night with a double and triple team and connected on just 12 of an astounding 32 tries from the field. Carlos Boozer played well, posting 18 points and Luol Deng added 13, but the rest of the Bulls were held under the double-digit mark in a game where Chicago desperately needed another go-to guy to step up in the trenches.

Smith, for one, likes Atlanta's chances if they continue to button up Rose on D.

"No," Smith tersely answered when asked by Aldridge whether Chicago could beat them without the league's MVP at the top of his game. "Rose is an outstanding player. He's an MVP player. Without (him having) the ball in their plan, it slows down the offense a little bit. We have to get the ball out of his hands more and let the other guys beat us."

In order to disrupt Rose and control the boards, Atlanta went big in the onset of this one, starting Jason Collins at center, sliding Horford to the four, Smith to the three and Marvin Williams to the bench in an attempt to create some energy that was lacking in Games 2 and 3. And much like in their six-game first round win over the Magic, the move to the "big" lineup paid dividends as the Hawks slowed down Rose in the paint and used their size advantage to even up the edge on the glass.

By the end of it, an Atlanta team that was -32 on the boards in their last two games, finished this one with a more respectable 37-36 Chicago edge on the glass. That's something that gives Smith and the Hawks a bit of confidence when they head back to the Windy City to try to wrestle back the home court edge in Game 5.

"We (won there) before," Smith said of the team's confidence going back to ChiTown. "It's not like a mission we can't accomplish. We know we can compete with this team. We're going to be in a dogfight come Tuesday."

Zaza Pachulia had five points and nine boards for Atlanta, which shot 49-percent (40-for-81) from the field.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.


Bulls Vs. Hawks Game 3 Final Score: Derrick Rose Posts Career-High 44, Leads Chicago To 99-82 Win

Derrick Rose had is shot going from Inside, outside and all around the floor. All that was separating the Chicago Bulls star from the antics of some guy named Michael Jordan was that other guy's signature tongue wag.

Yes folks, another Bulls budding superstar controlled a game in the ATL and the Atlanta Hawks simply didn't have a chance.

Rose set a career-high with 44 points to lead the Bulls to an easy 99-82 win over the Hawks in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup on Friday night at Philips Arena.

Taj Gibson had 13 points and Kyle Korver added 11 for the Bulls, who took a 2-1 edge in the best-of-seven series. More importantly for Chicago, they also took back home court in the series.

Chicago lead from the start and Rose imposed his will against an Atlanta team that couldn't get anything going from outside.

How quickly did Atlanta coach Larry Drew know that his Hawks team was in trouble in this one?

Less than a minute into the game. Chicago scored the first four points on rather easy buckets while Atlanta just sat around the perimeter as the iso-Joe offense turned into the iso-no-one-moves-around offense. Johnson took a tough shot and Drew called a time out before the Hawks could get another touch on offense.

It didn't matter. Chicago took a quick 9-3 lead and never really looked back. The Hawks were beat down by Rose; and when the league's MVP was on the bench, they were beat down by Bulls reserves like Korver and Gibson too.

By the end of this one, those "MVP" chants by the pro-Chicago contingent in the sold-out Philips Arena crowd got louder and louder. And Hawks fans lost their will to counter those cheers with those of "Let's Go Hawks."

Yep, it was yet another epic night for the visiting team and their fans at a postseason game in the transient city of Atlanta.

Two Hawks players had decent nights on Friday. Jeff Teague lead Atlanta with 21 points -- but it's not like Rose will be getting any Defensive Player of the Year awards anytime soon. After taking a couple of ill-advised jumpers and getting serenaded with "Noooo"s from the Philips Arena crowd, Josh Smith finally took it to the hoop, notching 17 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

But it was not enough for a Hawks team that simply didn't have an answer for Rose.

The NBA Most Valuable Player ended his night to "MVP" chants when he was taken out of the game with 3:06 left in the fourth quarter. He finished 16-for-27 from the field, 4-for-7 from beyond the arc and 8-for-9 from the charity stripe while adding seven assists and five boards.

Atlanta was terrible defending the 3-point line as Chicago made 10-of-20 from beyond the arc, and once again, this Hawks team forgot how to box out in the paint.

Joakim Noah was left unchecked near the offensive glass and grabbed eight offensive rebounds for a Chicago team that held an 18-9 edge on the offensive glass and a 47-39 advantage on the boards.

It's tough enough to beat Rose and the No. 1 seed Bulls if you defend and rebound, but when you lose those kind of battles, you simply do not have a chance.

Couple that with a Bulls defense that held Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson to 17 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the field and this one ended up as another one of those terrible Hawks losses on their home court. A game, which included a Pape Sy sighting. He actually recorded a point in garbage time down the stretch.

Johnson, Marvin Williams and Al Horford had 10 each for Atlanta, which finished just 1-for-6 from beyond the 3-point line.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.


Hawks Vs. Bulls Game 2 Final Score: Derrick Rose Nets 25 To Lead Chicago To 86-73 Win Over Atlanta

If someone told you that the Atlanta Hawks would leave the Windy City with a split in the first two games of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Chicago Bulls, one would figure most Hawks fans would be happy. But with how bad the Bulls played in Game 2, Atlanta's performance in this one seems like an opportunity lost.

Derrick Rose picked up the MVP award before the game and lead all scorers with 25 points as the Bulls coasted to an ugly 86-73 win over the Hawks on Wednesday night at the United Center.

Joakim Noah netted 19 points and grabbed 14 boards and Luol Deng poured in 14 and grabbed 12 rebounds for Chicago, which won despite shooting just 39-percent (33-for-84) from the field. 

Of course, the Hawks were just plain worse in a sloppy game that lacked tempo and for most of the first three quarters lacked much of an inside game for Atlanta's basketball team. As a result, the series heads down to Atlanta knotted at 1-1.

Give the Bulls credit. They made the adjustment on Joe Johnson, who torched them for 34 points in Atlanta's 103-95 Game 1 upset. But instead of capitalizing inside on the double-team, the Hawks went into that complacent, lazy game that got them another tongue lashing from coach Larry Drew during a second quarter timeout.

Hawks fans know it all too well, it's either the "iso-Joe standaround" or the "iso-Joe get open and take a terrible shot," which allows for a rushed or out-of-ideal-position shot, and an easy Bulls rebound and transition bucket.

Drew reminded his team during a timeout caught on TNT that when they play like that they lose. And that's exactly what they did on Wednesday night.

Atlanta failed to go inside with any real authority until late in the third quarter, when they made the first of many late runs. They whittled a 14 point third quarter lead to within seven in the third, six in the fourth, but couldn't push any closer. It seemed like once Atlanta's basketball team made a run, not only did the Bulls respond, but the Hawks also reverted back to that chuck up a bad shot form that sunk them once again.

The lone Atlanta bright spot was the play of second-year point guard Jeff Teague. He had a Hawks-high 21 points on 7-for-14 shooting from the field in his second game starting in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich.

The rest of the team shot a miserable 30-percent (19-for-63), "lead" by Marvin Williams (2-for-9), Al Horford (3-for-12) and Josh Smith (4-for-14).

Joe Johnson had 16 points and Smith had 13 for Atlanta, but J-Smoove crashed the boards just six times for the road team. Atlanta never fares well when Smith is not incredibly active on the glass and Wednesday night was no different.

Lead by Noah, Horford's former teammate at the University of Florida, the Bulls were simply more active on the glass, holding a 14-10 edge on the offensive boards and a commanding 58-39 advantage overall. That helped mask 14 Chicago turnovers and 10 blocked shots by Atlanta.

Carlos Boozer had eight points and 11 boards and Keith Bogans added six for the Bulls, who face off against the Hawks in Game 3 on Friday night at Philips Arena.


Hawks At Bulls Game 1 Final Score: Joe Johnson Scores 34 To Lead Atlanta To 103-95 Win Over Chicago

Someone forgot to tell Joe Johnson and the Atlanta Hawks that they were supposed to meekly go into the night against the "mighty" Chicago Bulls. It turns out that Chicago may be beat-a-Bull afterall.

Johnson netted 34 points and Jamal Crawford added 22 as the Hawks pulled off a 103-95 upset of the No. 1 seeded Bulls in Game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night at the United Center.

Jeff Teague had 10 points filling in for the injured Kirk Hinrich and Al Horford shook off early foul trouble to post nine points and grab 13 boards for Atlanta, which notched a win in the playoff's second round for the first time since the 1997.

"We're very confident," Johnson told TNT's David Aldridge after this one. "We know we can beat any team in this league once we focus in. Tonight we did that."

That they did. All it took was a near-career high playoff night from Johnson and some sub-par play from Derrick Rose to get there.

Johnson, who was lustily booed on his home court the last time the Hawks made it to the second round, looked all like the player that ownership rewarded with a max-contract in the offseason.

When Atlanta was struggling with its shot in the third quarter, the perennial All-Star nailed a couple of 3-pointers to keep the Hawks within striking distance. And then he helped the underdog Hawks pull off an upset that will resonate from Vegas to Rush Street to Bristol and every city in between.

"This is the post season not the regular season," Johnson said of the difference between this Hawks team and the one dropped a pair of double-digit decisions to the Bulls in the regular season. "I just think our swagger is a little bit different. We're just playing with confidence."

Atlanta somehow managed to escape with a 72-71 lead through three quarters despite connecting on just six field goals in a frame where the Hawks looked much like the "bad" Atlanta basketball team that jacks up ill-advised jumpers. However, to their credit, they did manage to tread water by defending on the other side of the floor.

That lead to good things in the next frame. Johnson ignited a decisive 15-4 Atlanta run with a 3-pointer, which he bookended with another trey with 7:13 left to post the Hawks to a 87-75 lead. You knew it was going to be Atlanta's night when guys like Zaza Pachulia and Teague contributed key buckets in that stretch.

Chicago cut the lead down to six on a few occasions down the stretch, but each time Atlanta had an answer.

The Hawks also managed to make life miserable for Rose, who ultimately finished with 24 points, but couldn't do much of anything early. The Chicago star and likely NBA MVP had no points in an 0-for-7 first quarter.

But Rose wasn't the only Bulls player who came out of the gate looking a little wet under the ears to big-time playoff basketball. Chicago misfired on its first nine shots from the field as Atlanta scored the game's first nine points, stunning the United Center crowd. They did not have a field goal until Luol Deng connected with 6:44 left in the first frame to make it an 11-4 game.

With Horford in foul trouble for most of the second quarter, Chicago whittled the lead down to 51-50 at the break and held as much as a six points in the third.

In the end, the Bulls just couldn't stop a charging Johnson. The Atlanta shooting guard finished 12-for-18 from the field and 5-for-5 from behind the 3-point line. He also nailed all five of his free throw attempts.

Johnson and the Hawks once again defied Vegas, who installed them as nine-point underdogs. They defied the so-called "experts" who were calling for a Bulls sweep and they won a second round game for the first time in 15 tries.

Yes, folks, the Hawks, who stole Game 1 in their opening round series against the Orlando Magic before closing out the series in six games, are at it again.

And this one could even get worse for the Bulls, who could possibly be without Rose in Game 2. The Chicago star appeared to tweak an ankle late in the game, to add injury to what may be considered by some in the Windy City to be an insulting loss to Atlanta's basketball team. He says he's fine, but we'll wait and see if suffers any effects from the injury over time.

Deng netted 21 points and Carlos Boozer had 14 for Chicago, which committed 11 turnovers.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.


Hawks Vs. Bulls Series Preview: Derrick Rose's Vow Against A Hawks Team Flying Under The Radar

The last time Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls faced off against the Atlanta Hawks at the Highlight Factory, the Chicago guard was a man on a mission.

Tucked in the back of his head was one of the Bulls' most embarrassing losses of the season -- a game where Chicago came to Atlanta and blew a 20-point lead behind a career-best night by Al Horford. Rose vowed that that would never happen again. His Bulls followed with an easy 114-81 drubbing of the Hawks the next time the two teams were on Atlanta's home floor.

That loss typified what a puzzling season it has been for the hometown Hawks. One night, the team will look like world-beaters, the next they'll look like the dregs of the league, dropping another game on their home court like they're the Sacramento Kings.

As a result, the Hawks have had problems establishing that respect level around the so-called experts that write and opine all that is the NBA.

Let's face it. Much like a character in a kid's bedtime story book, when the Hawks are good, they are very, very good and when they are bad, they are very, very bad. There's not much in between for Atlanta's basketball team.

However, as the Orlando Magic and their scribes found out, those who take the Hawks lightly do so at their peril. And much like with Orlando, outside of Chicago's superstar in Rose, the Hawks matchup somewhat well with the Bulls and could pull off an upset here.

But with Kirk Hinrich likely out for the entire series with a severe right hamstring injury, it's not going to be easy.

Expect to see a lot of much-touted-by-the-fans, but not-loved-by-the-coaches Jeff Teague at the point in this one. The second-year Hawk will have a pivotal assignment -- keeping up with Rose, who may notch the league's MVP award.

Also fronted against Rose will be Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford. Also expect another player that we didn't see much of in Atlanta's series against the more physical Orlando Magic to get some playing time in this one.

As much as Zaza Pachulia and Jason Collins were used to pester, annoy and disrupt Dwight Howard, Damien Wilkins will be called upon in spurts to do the same to Rose's game. The nephew of Hawks legend Dominique Wilkins does have the ability to shut down an opponent defensively in short spurts.

Should Hawks coach Larry Drew go back to his "small" lineup and start Marvin Williams at the three instead of Collins at center, the most intriguing matchup of the series will be that between former Florida Gator teammates Horford and Joakim Noah.

Whether he admits it or not, Horford has a tendency to elevate his game against his former teammate and singlehandedly willed Atlanta back in the first game of the regular season set between the two clubs, abusing Noah for most of the night in the comeback.

Atlanta should also have advantages in the "small" lineup with a healthy Josh Smith against a banged up Carlos Boozer, who is expected to play in Game 1 even though he's suffering from turf toe and at the shooting guard where Johnson faces Keith Bogans.

But those matchup advantages are moot if Rose does what he's capable of and seizes control of the game.

Not many people expect much from Atlanta in this series. The pundits will likely be selecting against them as the No. 1 seed Bulls have become the che trendy pick in the East. But this is still a relatively young Chicago team that is not very battle tested this late into the postseason.

Atlanta has been to the second round in each of the last three seasons. Yes, they haven't won a game in the last two Eastern Conference Semifinal appearances, but just getting there matters at this stage in the game.

Hawks don't have much reflectivity when penetrated by radar and this Hawks team relishes the role of flying under it as underdogs. Look for a competitive series, which the Hawks can steal if they win one of the first two games in the Windy City.

Prediction: This may come back to haunt me, but I am picking the Hawks. The very, very good Hawks team can beat the Bulls -- when they want to. And the determination to win seems to be there for this Atlanta team, which has the intangible edge in playoff-tested experience over Chicago.

Much like in the Orlando series, Atlanta will eke out a win in one of the first two games up in Chicago and hold onto home court at Philips Arena.

Hawks in Six.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.


Kirk Hinrich Injury Update: Hawks Guard Doubtful For Bulls Series With Severe Right Hamstring Strain

Atlanta, we have a problem.

The MRI came back on Atlanta Hawks point guard Kirk Hinrich's right hamstring injury and the results were not very good. The diagnosis was a severe strain and his is listed as doubtful for the Atlanta's Eastern Conference Semifinal matchup against the Chicago Bulls.

That's going to make life difficult for Atlanta, which must now go to "Plan B" when guarding Bulls guard Derrick Rose.

Atlanta traded for Hinrich in part to pick up some of the defensive duties from Joe Johnson when one of those big-time guards come into town. The theory was that Johnson would have would be able to finish games down the stretch with a tad bit of extra energy.

Now, Johnson will likely be the one who is primarily responsible for guarding Rose, who is one of the most prolific scorers in the league.

Expect to see more playing time for Jamal Crawford and second-year point guard Jeff Teague, who played in just two games in the recently completed six-game series against the Orlando Magic, should see hims minutes increase significantly.

I also wouldn't be shocked if Damien Wilkins is brought off the bench in stretches to basically pull a Zaza Pachulia on Rose a/k/a pester, annoy and disrupt Rose's game.

The good news is that Hinrich is not the only one who is ailing. The Bulls Carlos Boozer has turf toe. But he's expected to play in Game 1 on Monday.

Atlanta has played through adversity without Hinrich before and expect them to do it again when in the second-round series begins next week. But it's definitely not a way to being the series as the afterglow of the epic upset of the Magic begins to fade.

For more on the series, visit SB Nation's NBA hubPeachtree HoopsBlog-a-Bull, and SB Nation Chicago.

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