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Bulls frustrate Hawks into record-setting futility

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 9:45 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
Chicago Bulls power forward Carlos Boozer (5) battles Atlanta Hawks small forward Josh Smith (5) for rebound position during the first half of their game at the United Center on Monday, January 14, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois.

(MCT) — CHICAGO — The Chicago Bulls finally found a cure for their home woes. Play a team that produces historically bad offensive basketball.

Well, that and an intense and locked-in coach from the morning shootaround onward.

The Atlanta Hawks scored the fewest points in a regular-season game against the Bulls and narrowly avoided the lowest opponent field-goal percentage in the Bulls’ 97-58 cakewalk, which pushed the Bulls’ United Center record to 11-10.

“Thibs was screaming at us early in the morning,” Joakim Noah said, a playful smile forming. “It’s not fun to be screamed at at 9 a.m.

“What was he screaming about? That we were 10-10 at home. With a lot of F-bombs. A lot of F-bombs.”

Before the game, Kyle Korver fretted about recent Hawks struggles, proving his accuracy goes beyond 3-point marksmanship. These two sentences are the only times “marksmanship” and “Hawks” will be used together.

The Hawks, who have lost five straight road games, used a late rally to shoot 29.3 percent and tied another Bulls opponent low with five points in the second quarter, during which they shot 9.5 percent.

The Hawks also set opponent franchise-lows with 20 first-half points — tying the second-fewest produced in NBA history — and 20.5 percent first-half shooting.

“This was very, very embarrassing,” said Hawks coach Larry Drew, who promised lineup changes. “We have lost all sense of being a team.”

The previous opponent franchise regular-season-low was 59 points, set by the Orlando Magic last season. The Golden State Warriors shot 27.3 percent in February 2004.

The Hawks didn’t score in the second quarter until a tip-in by Al Horford with 5 minutes, 15 seconds remaining. They opened the second quarter by missing 10 straight shots and committing six turnovers.

Going back to the first quarter, the Hawks at one point scored four points in 13:22, allowing the Bulls to enjoy a 24-2 run. The Hawks committed a turnover on a backcourt violation on an inbounds play coming out of a timeout.

It’s hard to believe this is the same Hawks team that beat the Bulls by 17 in Atlanta last month.

“Thibs really dug into guys this morning,” Taj Gibson said. “He looked everybody in the eye and told us to get into defensive stances. There was no joking around. And this was the best I’ve seen our defensive transition all year. We were flying back on D, getting stops and frustrating them.”

To the point Devin Harris got called for a flagrant-one foul for body-slamming Kirk Hinrich early in the third quarter. Hinrich jumped up after the nasty foul and chased after Harris before Noah restrained him.

“He gave me a shot as I was taking off on one leg,” Hinrich said.

The Bulls had more rebounds (59) than the Hawks had points.

Carlos Boozer posted his Eastern Conference-leading 20th double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. That’s eight double-doubles in nine games, a stretch where Boozer is averaging 21.1 points and 11.1 rebounds.

“Our mindset was good,” Noah said. “Everybody was on edge.”

That includes Thibodeau.

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