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Thomas continues to give Bulls spark as Hawks lose 6th straight

ATLANTA -- Less than 24 hours after a tough overtime loss to
Cleveland, the Chicago Bulls were glad to see the Atlanta Hawks.

"We had some moments where we were sharp, but overall we
clearly had some lag from the game yesterday," Chicago coach Scott
Skiles said. "That's why you have to win these types of games."

Luol Deng scored 30 points and Kirk Hinrich had 22 in the Bulls'
11th straight victory over the Hawks, 105-97 Sunday.

The Bulls haven't lost to Atlanta since April 9, 2004. Overall,
they have won five of six and 12 of 16.

"It seems like every time we come down here, it's on a
back-to-back situation," Hinrich said. "Every quarter, we just
got a little better. We were able to do enough to get the win, and
we'll definitely take it. It was just a matter of being able to
stop them consistently."

Josh Smith finished with 24 points for the Hawks, who have
dropped six straight overall. They never led after Tyronn Lue's
3-pointer made it 78-75 with 10:52 remaining.

After Smith's putback of a runner he missed at the 3:57 mark of
the third, the 21-year-old missed his next six shots. He denied
that having Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas block consecutive attempts
affected his confidence.

Smith also thought Atlanta held together defensively, even
though Thomas dunked over him and converted a three-point play
early in the fourth.

"They started hitting shots," Smith said. "They were hitting
tough shots. You can't do anything about that when you're playing
defense."

Hawks coach Mike Woodson disagreed.

"There were three key matchups going into the game with
Hinrich, Deng and Gordon," Woodson said. "I think those guys
outplayed our three guys. We have to get better as a group,
individually on the ball defending. We just have too many
breakdowns."

Deng's 20-footer gave the Bulls an 82-80 lead after Marvin
Williams' running hook forced the game's 10th and final tie.

"Today's game was more mental than physical because we knew we
were tired going in," Deng said. "We just had to find a way to
win today. I think we were just more focused. P.J. Brown encouraged
all the guys to bring some energy, and that helped us."

The Philips Arena crowd roared when Thomas stole the ball from
Zaza Pachulia and drove uncontested for a hard left-handed dunk
that made it 88-82 with 6:27 remaining.

"I was nowhere near where I was last night," said Thomas, who
set a career high with 27 points Saturday against LeBron James and
the Cavaliers. "My fourth quarter has always been my best. But I'm
still not where I want to be. Im just glad we got the job done."

Hinrich followed with a 19-footer from the right wing to push
the lead to 90-82.

Losers in six straight to Chicago at home, the Hawks committed
20 turnovers, four each from Lue and Pachulia.

"That was the key to the game," Lue said. "That's what hurt
us the most. This was a tough one to swallow."

Williams finished with 16 points, and Lue had 15 for Atlanta.

Ben Gordon scored 15 for the Bulls.

Game Notes
The Bulls improved to 31-14 against the Eastern Conference,
11-5 against the Southeast Division. ... Atlanta fell to 14-30 vs.
the East, 2-12 against the Central. ... G Joe Johnson, Atlanta's
leading scorer with a 25.0 average, missed his 13th straight game
with a right calf contusion. ... With the Final Four in town, North
Carolina coach Roy Williams watched two of his former players,
Kansas' Hinrich and the Tar Heels' Marvin Williams. ... The Bulls
improved to 29-8 when scoring 100 or more points.