CHICAGO (AP) -- With Atlanta's Joe Johnson scoring from every
angle and nearly unstoppable, the Chicago Bulls' comfortable lead
was slipping away.
After a 24-point margin had been whittled to five, Ben Gordon
bailed the Bulls out. He scored their final 10 points and Chicago
held on for a 111-99 win Saturday night.
"I was struggling a little bit in the second half, but then I
just tried to take over in the fourth quarter and get my team
going," Gordon said after the Bulls matched their longest winning
streak of the season at four. "Fortunately I was able to knock
down some big shots."
Johnson scored 32 of his career-high 40 points in the second
half to spark Atlanta's rally. He made 13 of 16 shots in the second
half during a stellar offensive display that kept the Hawks in the
"We came out in the second half with a lot more energy. Down
the stretch of the game we just didn't come up with the big
plays," Johnson said.
"I was more assertive on both ends and my teammates were
finding me when I was open. I would trade it (his career high) for
Gordon finished with 23 points and Kirk Hinrich added 22 for the
Bulls, 18 in the opening half when Chicago built a big lead against
the NBA's worst road team.
But the Hawks didn't fade, despite their poor start.
Johnson's 3-pointer got Atlanta within 93-86 with just more than
8 minutes left. Andres Nocioni, who had nine points in the fourth
quarter for Chicago, scored on a goaltending call.
But Atlanta's Al Harrington scored and after he missed a free
throw, Josh Smith grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back in
to make it 95-90 with 6:44 left.
Gordon came to the rescue, hitting three straight baskets and
later adding four free throws over the final 2:28 as the Bulls held
"Both teams were tired, playing through exhaustion," said
Gordon, noting that both teams had also played Friday night.
Atlanta missed its first seven shots and 10 of its first 11,
finishing the first quarter just 7-for-27 (26 percent) and falling
into a big hole from which it never recovered.
Hinrich had 12 quick points, his three-point play and Luol
Deng's jumper gave the Bulls a 25-9 lead. The lead went to 18 and
Chicago led 31-15 at quarter's end, shooting 67 percent.
Rookies Salim Stoudamire and Marvin Williams helped the Hawks
get within 10 in the second quarter, but Hinrich converted a
three-point play after being fouled on a jumper and then sank a
3-pointer to push it back to 55-37.
"We were embarrassed in the first half," Atlanta coach Mike
Woodson said. "I've got to take responsibility for our play in the
first half. It was awful, unacceptable. We came back in the third
and fourth quarters and competed."
The Bulls led by 24 in the third period before Johnson scored
seven to spark a 12-0 run as the Hawks closed within 86-72 with one
"At halftime we knew we could make a run at them," Johnson
said. "Our consistency this season has been terrible. We need to
find a way to get ourselves up and be aggressive against every
Zaza Pachulia's follow and a 3-pointer by Stoudamire got Atlanta
within nine early in the fourth before Nocioni rescued the Bulls'
stagnant offense with seven points.
Chandler had 14 rebounds and 10 points while Deng finished with
18 points for the Bulls.
Members of the World Series winning Chicago White Sox were
introduced at the half and received one of the loudest ovations of
the night as they passed the championship trophy around and held it
up to the crowd. First baseman Paul Konerko carried the trophy onto
and off the floor. ... The Bulls have beaten the Hawks five
straight after sweeping four games last season. ... Atlanta is now
3-17 on the road. It was the Hawks' first road contest after a
seven-game homestand. ... Chicago now plays seven straight on the