ATLANTA (AP) -- As they entered their fourth game in five days,
the Chicago Bulls had every reason to be a step slow Saturday
Instead, the Bulls stayed a step ahead of the more rested
Atlanta Hawks, who were playing for the first time since Tuesday
Luol Deng set an early high-energy pace with his fast-break
baskets, and the Bulls never let the Hawks catch up, beating
Atlanta 95-90 Saturday night for their sixth straight win in the
Deng, who led Chicago with 21 points, had three layups in the
first 6 minutes as the Bulls never trailed.
"I'm just playing with a lot of energy," Deng said. "It's the
other end -- defense and rebounding -- that gets me going. I'm just
trying to play my hardest. I feel great."
The Bulls, who swept four games from the Hawks last season, have
won the first two games in this season's series.
Chicago held off a late comeback sparked by Al Harrington, who
scored 32 points with 10 rebounds.
"We had way too many days off," Harrington said. "We lost our
rhythm. We lost our feel."
Said Hawks coach Mike Woodson: "We go out with the idea of
winning the game each time we step on the floor, but that team
played harder than we did tonight."
The Bulls, chasing Philadelphia and Milwaukee for the eighth
playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, snapped a two-game losing
Bulls coach Scott Skiles said it was as obvious from the opening
minutes that his team had a spark Saturday night. But Skiles said
it was clear the Bulls lacked that intensity in Friday night's home
loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Skiles acknowledged the Bulls played as if their backs were
against the wall in terms of playoff hopes against the Hawks.
"The problem is they're against the wall every game right now
and somehow we have to convince the guys of that," Skiles said.
One game after scoring a career-high 42 points, Joe Johnson had
22 for the Hawks, including a basket to cut the deficit to 88-83.
Two free throws by Josh Smith with 30 seconds left pulled the
Hawks within 91-88. Hinrich answered with two free throws with 14
seconds left and then iced the win with two more free throws with
8.3 seconds to play.
"I think we came into this game thinking that they were going
to roll over because they played last night and they were tired,"
Johnson said. "You've got to give them a lot of credit. They're a
Smith and Zaza Pachulia each had 11 points for Atlanta.
The Bulls, who have not lost to the Hawks since April 9, 2004,
did not trail in the first half while shooting 53 percent from the
Deng, who had 13 points in the first half, helped the Bulls to
an early 17-7 lead.
"We had good life from start to finish," Skiles said. "We
played, I think, very good defense with the exception of a handful
of possessions, and that allowed us to run and get going."
The Bulls led 47-39 at halftime after building another 10-point
lead at 39-29. Chicago led 73-63 entering the final period and
stretched the lead to 83-69.
Hinrich sat out much of the third quarter after falling
early in the period. Skiles said Hinrich, who appeared to fall on
his knee, had a cramp. ... Hawks G Josh Childress missed his third
straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Hawks C John Edwards
was in uniform but missed his second straight game with a sprained
ankle. ... The Bulls announced before the game that F Darius
Songaila will be out six to eight weeks with a fractured right
foot. Songaila had played in every game before Saturday night,
averaging 9.2 points and 4.0 rebounds.