Turnovers sink Chicago Bulls in Atlanta

By Guy Curtright, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 27, 2016 at 1:53 AM
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Hawks are 3-0 against Chicago this season and turnovers have been a big part of the Bulls' downfall in each of the double-figure losses.

The Bulls added 21 turnovers to the 41 they committed in the first two losses and the Hawks turned defense into transition offense for a 103-88 victory Friday night.

Guard Jeff Teague had 19 points and nine assists, while center Al Horford scored 18 points and forward Kent Bazemore broke a slump with 17 points.

"We came out with a lot of energy defensively," Horford said. "For us it was a must win and our defense carried us."

The victory snapped a three-game losing streak, all at home, for the Hawks (32-27) and was just their second in the past seven games.

"It was a big win," Bazemore said. "This is the way we need to play. I think for 48 minutes we were consistent on defense. We turned them over and got out on transition."

The Chicago turnovers led to 27 Hawks points as Atlanta won handily despite making just 7 of 34 3-point shots.

"That's all we talked about for two days was taking care of the basketball," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. "You don't give yourself a chance to win when you have careless turnovers like that."

Forward Doug McDermont had 20 points for the Bulls (30-27) and center Paul Gasol had his 33rd double-double of the season, grabbing 17 rebounds and scoring 16 points despite 6-for-22 shooting.

It was the 12th straight game in which the Bulls, who were without guard Derrick Rose (hamstring), had allowed at least 100 points and they are 4-8 in the stretch despite a three-game winning streak coming into this game.

"I don't get it," Hoiberg said of his team's performance. "We had three good games and made a lot of progress. We took a step back."

Atlanta had 28 assists on 44 baskets and held Chicago to 36.4 percent shooting.

The Hawks led by 19 points in the second quarter of their 120-105 victory over the Bulls in Atlanta on Jan. 9 and were up by as many as 15 at the same juncture this time despite woeful 3-point shooting.

The Bulls, though, closed the first half on an 11-3 run to close within 51-44 at intermission as McDermont came off the bench to score 10 points in the second quarter.

Neither team could hit from behind the 3-point arc in the first half, with the Hawks going 2-for-20 and the Bulls 1-for-10.

The Hawks recouped to start the third quarter 3-for-5 from long range and were up 72-54 before the Bulls went on an 11-1 run. The Atlanta lead was back up to 79-67 going into the final quarter, though, and kept growing.

Forward Paul Millsap had 13 rebounds to go with 12 points as the Hawks dominated the boards in the early going.

The Bulls out-rebounded the Hawks in the second half, but their turnover woes continued.

"We didn't shoot well, but we were focused all night and that's what we need," Hawks forward Kyle Korver said. "I thought our focus on defense was really great."

NOTES: Bulls G Derrick Rose sat out his second straight game because of tendinitis in his right hamstring and is doubtful for Saturday at home against Portland at the end of the back-to-back. "If he feels like today, than no," coach Fred Hoiberg said when asked if Rose would likely play against the Trail Blazers. Rose is averaging 26 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 57.4 percent shooting since the All-Star break. ... With G/F Joe Johnson headed to Miami when he clears waivers on Saturday, the Hawks will have to look elsewhere to fill the roster spot opened by the loss of C Tiago Splitter, who had season-ending hip surgery Thursday in New York. ... C Edy Tavares and G/F Lamar Patterson were assigned by the Hawks to Austin of the NBA Development League for a pair of weekend games.

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