Round 2, Game 3 Recap: Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks

Posted by By at 7 May, at 23 : 43 PM Print

Chicago took control of the series behind a spectacular performance by Derrick Rose en route to a 99-82 win. I think we can put to bed any notions that he’s still feeling the effects of the injury he suffered at the end of game 2. Atlanta may be in for a tough rest of the series as Chicago has been playing largely below the  level they played at during the regular season these playoffs. If yesterday’s game was the one to jump start their postseason and they start playing like many felt they would against the Pacers last round Atlanta will not want to fall behind 3-1 on Sunday with the series heading back to Chicago for a possible clinching game 4.

At this point, there probably isn’t much that can be said about Derrick Rose that hasn’t been said at some point already this season. Last night he managed to do something he had never done during his time in the NBA, regular season or playoffs. He scored 44 points. He was 16-27 from the field, 4-7 from 3-pt land, and 8-9 from the free-throw line. He also had 5 rebounds to go along with 7 assists and he cut his turnovers down to only 2. More impressively was the fact that he attacked the basket with the fearlessness that he did in the regular season after saying before the game that he needed to put the ankle injury out of his mind and play like he knew he could. Mission accomplished.

Not surprisingly, Rose was the only starter in double figures. Joakim Noah was only 1-8 from the floor, but had a great game on the glass, grabbing 15 rebounds and blocked 5 shots. Keith Bogans only made 2 field goals, both were 3′s. Luol Deng had his worst game this postseason, going 3-10, and only had 7 points. Carlos Boozer wasn’t needed to play big minutes with the Bulls in control the majority of the game and was able to rest is sore toe a bit, and only had 6 points and 6 rebounds on the night. Gibson  picked up the slack for him having his best game of the playoffs with a nice double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kyle Korver added 11 off the bench as well.

If you watched the game from the start, you had a feeling early on that it wasn’t going to be Atlanta’s night. Larry Drew called a timeout about two minutes into the game with the score 4-0 Chicago because of Atlanta’s lack of effort getting back on defense in transition. From that point it continued to get worse for the Hawks.

One positive for Atlanta was that all five starters scored in double digits for the first time this series. Jeff Teague once again led the team in scoring with 21 for the second straight game. Joe Johnson struggled with his shot for the first time in the three games so far and was one of three Hawks with 10 points. Al Horford and Marvin Williams also had 10. Jamal Crawford once again had a minimal impact on the game off the bench, scoring only 7.  Josh Smith’s overall stat line of 17 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 blocks was pretty impressive, but that didn’t matter to the fans on hand at Philips Arena. Every time he attempted a jumper, which usually missed, he was booed and jeered by the crowd. They probably could’ve been directed at the entire team as no one other than Teague appeared to be playing with much effort.

Chicago will no doubt come out on Sunday and try to break the will of a wounded animal, no pun intended. Atlanta looked to have zero answers on stopping rose and the bench finally played like they did in the regular season. In fact, the bench was on the floor the first time the Bulls’ lead stretched into double digits. Expecting Rose to have that kind of game again might be asking a bit much, but if he plays close to that, Deng provides a bit more support than he did last night, and the bench continues to play well it could spell a 3-1 lead heading back to the United Center for Tuesday’s game.

Atlanta probably won’t win this series with Jeff Teague being the best player on the floor. Johnson and Horford need to play better than they have the last two games for sure. Maybe the reaction Smith received from shooting so many jumpers will sink in and he’ll operate more in the low post to take advantage of his athleticism. Without Crawford producing, the Hawks’ bench has been nonexistent, allowing the Bulls to take control when the second unit is on the floor. After a very promising start to the series, the Hawks have come back to earth in the last two games.

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