Round 2, Game 5 Recap: Chicago Bulls vs Atlanta Hawks

Posted by By at 11 May, at 16 : 31 PM Print

With a 95-83 win, the Bulls now lead the series 3-2 and will have a chance to close out the series Thursday in Atlanta. In his post game press conference, Hawks head coach Larry Drew just said, “They played harder than we did” and down the stretch I’d have to agree with him. The Bulls led 69-68 at the end of the third quarter and turned up the defensive pressure to outscore the Hawks 26-15 in the fourth on the way to their 12 point win.

Derrick Rose scored 33 points and handed out 9 assists. Luol Deng got off to a great start in the first quarter with 7 quick points, and finished the night with 23 to go along with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Carlos Boozer didn’t shoot well, going 4-11 from the floor, and had 11 points. He did lead the team in rebounds with 12. Joakim Noah was his usual active self, but didn’t really have the stat line to show for it tonight. He didn’t score, only had 6 rebounds, and didn’t register a blocked shot. Like Deng, Keith Bogans got off to a hot start in the first quarter and finished 3-5 from behind the arc on the way to his 11 points. Both Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson had big impacts off the bench for Chicago. Brewer had 2 key steals down the stretch that lead to buckets and Gibson was a perfect 5-5 from the floor and had 11 points.

Yet again Jeff Teague was the best player on the court tonight for the Hawks. He was 8-11 from the floor and had 21 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists, and 0 turnovers. Joe Johnson was one of three Hawks with 6 field goals made. He was 6-15, Al Horford was 6-13, and Josh Smith was 6-14. Johnson finished with 15 points and made only 1 shot from behind the arc. Horford had 10 rebounds and 3 blocks to go along with his 12 points. Smith didn’t quite have the monster game he had in game 4, but have a solid one with 16 points and 7 rebounds. Jamal Crawford was held in check, going only 1-9 from the field, but was second on the team to Jeff Teague with 4 assists. Zaza Pachulia had easily his best game this postseason going 5-6 from the floor and 3-4 from the free-throw line to total 13 points off Atlanta’s bench. His defense/hustle was a big reason Noah was held off the offensive glass and didn’t score.

Even though game 7 would be back in Chicago at the United Center the Bulls would rather not take a chance giving the Hawks another chance and end the series on Thursday. Luol Deng stepped up tonight to be the second scoring option the Bulls will need if they’re going to make a Finals run. The impact of the bench is what Bulls fans have been accustomed to seeing this season and while Atlanta shot 48% for the game, the defensive intensity down the stretch shows what the Bulls are capable of on the defensive end as they completely shut down the Hawks. A place in the Eastern Conference Finals is at stake, let’s see if Chicago plays with the sense of urgency the situation requires.

The Hawks will have their backs against the wall on Thursday, but if there’s a silver lining to the cloud it’s that they will be in the friendly confines of Philips Arena. They’ll need all the energy & support they can get because one would expect the Bulls to try and jump out to quick start and deliver an early knockout blow. With no disrespect at all intended towards Jeff Teague, who has played an outstanding series, the Hawks probably will not win this series with him being the best player on the floor. Joe Johnson was given a Brinks truck full of money, and Smith & Horford make substantially more than Teague for a reason. Those are the three that need to be carrying the load. If the Hawks do lose on Thursday, I hope they go down swinging and not rolling over and producing a lackluster performance, as they’ve been known to do.

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