Round 2 Game 5: Bulls 95, Hawks 83

Talk about a turnaround.

In Game 4, the Bulls were up 69-67 heading into the fourth quarter before getting outscored by 14 points in the final frame of a disappointing loss.

Last night, Chicago led 69-68 and then outscored the Hawks 26-15 over the final 12 minutes, taking a 3-2 series lead in the process.

And how ’bout Tom Thibodeau’s fourth quarter lineup?

Derrick Rose and Luol Deng weren’t surprises. Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer and Taj Gibson were.

That Frightful Five completely shut down Atlanta’s offense — the Hawks went 5-for-16 in the fourth quarter — and Thibs wisely stuck with them. Their defense was stifling. Seriously, Atlanta couldn’t get anything going. It was a defensive clinic. Here are some of the best sequences:

With 10:45 left in the fourth, Gibson blocked Joe Johnson’s layup. Al Horford pulled down the offensive board and got the ball to Jamal Crawford, who had to chuck up a three to try and beat the shot clock. He didn’t, turning the ball over to the Bulls.

That offensive fail was followed by a particularly ugly three possessions: Johnson missed from 26 feet, Crawford missed from 26 feet, Al Horford had his pass picked off by Brewer.

With 5:45 left, Johnson was isolating against Deng near the sideline. Lu had him blanketed and nearly stole the ball away before the rock went out of bounds off Johnson.

With 2:00 left, Johnson was again isolating, but looked into the jaws of the defense and launched a listless three-pointer that had no chance of going in. That was when I knew the Bulls had broken the Hawks’ spirits.

For this game at least.

Rose did his usual crunch-time work, scoring 11 points and dishing out 3 assists in the fourth. Somewhat surprisingly, especially to the Hawks, were the 11 fourth quarter points poured in by Gibson.

The Rise of Taj indeed.

Said Gibson: “I was thinking about getting Luol [Deng] open, getting Derrick [Rose] open. Defensive rebounding and playing solid defense. Offense is always going to come. I just wanted to come in and make solid plays. You never know. [Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau] would have probably subbed me for Joakim, Booze, Kyle.

“I just wanted to kind of give us a little leeway, try to tire, try to slow Josh [Smith] down a little bit, because you can’t stop anybody. You can only slow them down. The shots were just coming to me and I was just taking my looks and they were going down.”

Gibson was playing so well that Carlos Boozer didn’t mind watching events unfold from the bench. Booz was celebrating as hard as any reserve, and he was one of the first guys jumping up to congratulate his teammates during timeouts. I think that’s worth pointing out. Carlos takes his lumps from Bulls fans. But, by all indicates, he’s been an excellent teammate this season.

Said Boozer: “From the start of the fourth, all the way to the end, they switched plays, they got blocks, they got rebounds. Ronnie [Brewer] came in and got a couple big rebounds. Taj, Omer, everybody that was out there was doing a great job. And then on offense, you saw what happened. Taj got on fire and was hitting shots from everywhere. He was flying like a plane out there, got us hyped out there. And then D. Rose was D. Rose. He took the game over as usual, made great plays. Made big shots. Luol had a big game, monster game, made big plays. It was fun to watch, man. Just fun to watch the guys get down.”

Rose quieted he many critics of his shot volume — yes, Sir Charles, I’m looking at you — by scoring 33 points on 24 shots while dishing out 9 assists and compiling a game-high plus-minus score of +17. Deng (23 points, 7-for-7 from the line, +15) had another “quiet but quality” game. Keith Bogans drilled a trio of triples despite a sprained right ankle. And the bench was excellent in relief.

The Bulls finished with 15 fast break points and scored a total of 50 points in the paint. They scored 17 points off of only 11 Atlanta turnovers.

Chicago was once again lit up by Jeff Teague (21 points, 8-for-11, 7 assists) and, oddly enough, Zaza Pachulia (13 points on 5-for-6 shooting off the bench). But the defense made Joe Johnson look average (15 points on 6-for-15 shooting) and absolutely shut down Jamal Crawford (2 points, 1-for-9, -11).

Another key stat: The Hawks went 1-for-12 from downtown. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Atlanta is 10-for-40 from three-point range in its three losses during the series…and 11-for-24 in its two wins. Not exactly a smoking gun, I know, but shutting down a team’s three-point game is always a crucial factor for victory.

This was a nice, solid win. But it was hardly overpowering. The Bulls built a 15-point lead in the first quarter but the Hawks rallied to take a small lead in the third. Inspired play by Rose and the reserves bullied Atlanta down the stretch, but the team can play better. Especially on defense. Yes, the Hawks went 1-for-12 on threes, but they converted 56 percent of their two-pointers (33-for-59). Teague, in particular, got way too many easy layups. And, even though the Bulls put the defensive clamps on in the final 12 minutes, Atlanta was shooting 53 percent through three quarters.

That kind of defensive effort won’t win Game 6 in Atlanta.

Overall, I liked the team’s composure and the way they took care of business down the stretch. Of course, the Hawks looked spent at the end of the game. Remember: This group has a really thin bench. Horford, Johnson and Teague all played 40+ minutes and Smith logged 39. That contributed to Atlanta’s fourth quarter collapse. The Bulls won’t be able to count on that Thursday night, not on the road, with the home crowd riling the Hawks up.

What I’m saying is: Good effort…but the Bulls can play better. And they’re going to need to if they want to finish this series in six games.

Recap, Box Score, Play-By-Play, Shot Chart, Photos.

19 Responses to Round 2 Game 5: Bulls 95, Hawks 83

  1. Inception May 11, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    it’s been quite some time since we’ve closed out a series on the road….i think it’s a huge game for CHI…a win in an hostile environment to close out a series would show big-time character for this team….i really hope they can play with an all-out intensity come thursday.

    Tony C. May 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    As it is well known that D-Rose reads the comments on this blog religiously, here’s my pearl of wisdom for the day:

    Derrick – Stop meeting Teague so far away from the damn basket, and fighting over, rather than under screens. He has been torching you while finishing in the lane throughout the series. Force him to hit some jumpers for a change!


  3. Tae May 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    “and, oddly enough, Zaza Pachulia” I wonder who was guarding him? Hmm

    Gorditadogg May 11, 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Rose’s defense still needs work. Bogans was all over Johnson last night though wasn’t he? And Deng, although he is giving a lot of size, can guard Smith a lot better than the other way around.

    Omer is so quick on his feet for a big man. At the beginning of the year he got a lot of blocking fouls, but now the refs realize that he gets set quickly.

    ScottA May 11, 2011 at 3:32 pm #

    Noah has to be locked in a gym with a jump-shot coach this summer; it’s pretty ominous that he couldn’t give the Bulls enough offense to justify keeping him on the court over Asik.

    Anyways, if they can finish off the Hawks, I think the Bulls will look a lot better against the Heat. They’re really designed to defend teams with a couple dominant scorers; not teams with a large, weird assortment of very solid scorers like they’ve gotten so far in the playoffs.

    Also, it looks like Larry Drew should have gotten that head coaching job years ago.

    Mr Bull May 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm #

    Oh man.if Derrick reads comments on this blog then WE LOVE YOU HERE IN MOSCOW!!!!

    Adam May 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm #


    Noah hasn’t shot a single jumper in the post season. Before his thumb injury he was a threat out there.

    BFD May 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm #

    Noah just needs to practice it again and get his confidence in the shot back. (I would hate to have to groan every time he shoots it like an ATL fan groans when Smith heaves one).

  9. Dude May 11, 2011 at 7:46 pm #

    Yeah totally, in the beginning of the season Joakim was a legit threat offensively, knocking down mid range jumpers when teams would leave him wide open. Definitely different since the thumb injury and definitely part of the Noah-Boozer compatibility issue.

    cmb2345 May 11, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    great win last night ….yea bulls struggles in the middle but the most important thing to me was starting and finishing the gam very strong …the bulls have struggled through out the year opening games it was great to see deng start out so strong i think we really need that cushion starting out ….boozer looks like he is starting to come around which is great but i would love to see him be alot more agressive….and drose is drose and boozer would say he truly is living up to his mvp award keep it up your doing great…..GO BULLS!!!!!!

    bulls snap May 11, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    talk about a nail biter. I had $200 on the game last night. they didn’t let me down!

    inkybreath May 11, 2011 at 9:36 pm #

    Noah is simply thinking too much about his shot. Like any other player he just needs to know that he is shooting when the ball hits his hands. He is noticeably tentative.

  13. Inception May 12, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Let’s just accept the fact that Noah is not an offensive weapon on this team…he can score double figures, but in the end, he’s a defensive guy….i’d rather see him expend all his energy on defense and rebounding.

    not as great as rodman, but he’s like the rodman of this team with a little more offensive skills.

    Sam May 12, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    Blog Post:

    On LeBron James, Michael Scott, and Saying Stupid Things

    Paintballing Surrey May 12, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Too bad for Noah. Since his thumb injury, it all went down as far as the single jumpers

    ScottA May 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    Good point about the thumb injury; forgot about that. And considering his jump shot, thumb positioning might actually make a pretty huge difference.

    Spacing is really the main concern though, not Noah actually scoring. And on that, one of the announcers the other night mentioned the lack of defensive 3-second calls on Atl., which was interesting. Can’t decide if the refs are missing them, or if the Bulls bigs are staying slightly too close to the paint for the calls to get made. Something to keep an eye on tonight I guess.

    Savage May 12, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    You have to go with what works. Asik appears to be defending the paint more effectively than Noah as we saw during the 4th quarter. Not saying we don’t play Noah just saying I give props to Coach T for keeping the players out there that were being most effective. For some reasons players seem to be driving the paint and getting shots in over Noah pretty rapidly, I did not see that happening with Asik in the game. We need to have an inside presence to stop Teague & Smith from getting points in the paint. If we do that we win.

    Bam! May 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    With the Celtic’s legacy being essentially over, and suspicions rising that Ray Allen wants to exercise his ability to leave Boston next season, the prospects of getting him to come to Chicago have gone from “wouldn’t that be nice” to “THAT COULD HAPPEN!”

    I do not think we will win a championship this year. Statistically, it is a legitimate possibility, but I say nay. BUT, with Ray Allen playing the 2, a championship would be at an arms length. Just check out this potential starting five:


    That would be AWESOME! On a side note, if you take the first letter of the first four members of that list, you can get the name of my favorite author…

    chicago bulls snapback July 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I like his face in the end of vedio

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