Chicago wins series 4-2 (Game 6 of 6)

Chicago wins series 4-2

Game 1: Monday, May 2nd
Game 2: Wednesday, May 4th
Game 3: Friday, May 6th
Game 4: Sunday, May 8th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 10th
Game 6: Thursday, May 12th

Bulls 93

(62-20, 26-15 away)

Hawks 73

(44-38, 24-17 home)

    Coverage: ESPN/WatchESPN

    8:00 PM ET, May 12, 2011

    Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHI 27 18 25 2393
    ATL 17 18 18 2073

    Top Performers

    Chi: C. Boozer 23 Pts, 10 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Atl: J. Smith 18 Pts, 5 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk

    Carlos Boozer, Derrick Rose lead Bulls past Hawks into East finals

    Associated Press

    ATLANTA -- Turns out, the Chicago Bulls are more than just a one-man team.

    Derrick Rose sure had plenty of help in this one.

    Next up: the Eastern Conference finals, against Miami and the Big Three.

    Carlos Boozer scored 23 points, Rose doled out 12 assists in more of a supporting role and the Bulls cruised past the Atlanta Hawks 93-73 on Thursday night, wrapping up the East semifinals in six games.

    "It's huge for us to get this far," Rose said. "We're happy to get the conference finals, but we're not planning to stop right there."

    The Bulls haven't been this far since 1998, when Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were on their way to a second three-peat. Pippen sat near the Chicago bench, relishing a new generation that's carried his old team into contention for another championship.

    "When we showed up for training camp, we knew we could be special," Rose said. "We were ready to put in the work and not be concerned with statistics. We just were concerned with winning each night."

    As if to prove his point, Rose took a playoff-low 14 shots and finished with 19 points, his second-lowest total of the postseason. This was a textbook performance by the guys around him, each of them comfortable in a supporting role, each of them willing to do the dirty work at the defensive end.

    The most impressive number: Chicago had assists on all but seven of its 41 baskets. Or, come to think of it, maybe it was this stat: The Hawks shot just 37 percent (27-of-74) and rarely got an open look.

    "If anything, our defense won this game," said Rose, who had been averaging nearly 30 points a game in the playoffs.

    At the other end, Boozer kept winding up with the ball with no one around, and kept knocking down jump shots. He went 10-of-16 from the field, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out five assists.

    "D-Rose gets so much attention," said Boozer, who had been bothered by a toe injury and come under criticism at home for inconsistent play. "The 15-footer was open for me. I shot it."

    Luol Deng hit some big baskets early and finished with 13 points, plus five steals. Joakim Noah scored 11 and stifled the Hawks with three blocks. Omer Asik chipped in with two swats of his own. Keith Bogans made only one basket, but it was a big 3-pointer as the Bulls put it away in the third quarter.

    And, boy, did everyone play some defense.

    "What goes underrated about them is the depth of their team," said Atlanta's Al Horford, who had a miserable night and a tough series overall. "They just wear on you. They just kept coming, kept coming every game. It seemed like their starters were fresh."

    The Bulls fell on hard times after the glorious M.J. era, including three straight 60-loss seasons. But they have put together a deep, talented team that won more games than anyone during the regular season.

    Yep, even more than the ballyhooed Heat, whose collection of stars runs three-deep with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who came together in south Florida knowing anything less than a title would be considered a failure.

    First, they'll have to get by the Bulls.

    Game 1 is Sunday in Chicago.

    "It's going to be a great matchup," Rose said. "We're fine with being considered the underdog."

    Atlanta had hoped to extend this series to a Game 7, feeling the pressure would be squarely on the Bulls if it came down to a winner-take-all. But Chicago squashed those hopes right from the opening tip. The Bulls never trailed, and the lead was 10 by the end of the first quarter.

    The Hawks had been in that position before. They fell behind by 15 in Game 5, then fought back to lead early in the fourth quarter. Chicago dominated down the stretch for a 13-point win, but the Bulls weren't about to cut it that close again.

    With the loss, Atlanta extended an infamous playoff mark: The Hawks have never advanced past the second round since moving from St. Louis in 1968.

    Joe Johnson led the Hawks with 19 points. Josh Smith was the only other player in double figures with 18. The Hawks went 1-of-11 from beyond the 3-point arc.

    "They just got on a roll," Johnson said. "Boozer probably had his best game that he played all series. ... You have him scoring and playing big like that, obviously they're going to be tough to beat."

    Deng went down early, landing hard after Smith got a piece of him going for the block. Deng was OK, staying in the game to shoot a pair of free throws after a timeout.

    Then Atlanta got its own scare early in the second quarter. Jeff Teague, the fill-in point guard who had been the surprise of the series, had a nasty fall along the baseline. He went straight to the X-ray room, his right arm dangling limply beside him as he trotted off in obvious pain.

    Nothing was broken, but it turned out both wrists were sprained. He returned late in the second quarter all taped up, but it didn't help much. During breaks, he rubbed at the tape and kept flexing his wrist. The second-year player wasn't a factor, scoring just 4 points on 2-of-6 shooting.

    "It was pretty bad," Teague said. "It was pretty tough to hold the ball. There was no way I could shoot the ball."

    But he was hardly the only one who struggled. Horford, who had been named to the All-NBA third team earlier in the day, went 2-of-10. So did Jamal Crawford, the victim of persistent double-teaming ever since he had a big game in Atlanta's surprising Game 1 win.

    Chicago led by as many as 17 in the first half, with Boozer leading the way. He had 13 points, four rebounds and two assists at the break.

    Atlanta made a late surge, the crowd on its feet when Smith pulled off a spectacular dunk on a lob from Johnson -- despite getting a shove from Noah as he was soaring toward the hoop.

    But a big call went against Smith, costing the Hawks a chance to cut the gap to single figures before halftime. He scored off another fast break, and the referees had to confer before ruling the Rose had drawn the offensive foul. Smith grabbed his head in disbelief and pleaded with the officials, to no avail.

    Chicago settled for a 45-35 halftime lead and never let the margin below double figures over the final two quarters.

    Game notes

    The Hawks stuck with their big lineup, starting Jason Collins at center for the third straight game and bringing F Marvin Williams off the bench. Williams failed to score in 15 minutes. ... Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau on Atlanta C Zaza Pachulia, who's been accused of going down a little too easily trying to draw fouls: "He sells. That's all I'll say: He sells." ... Chicago's Taj Gibson had 10 points and four rebounds in less than 14 minutes.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 93 73
    FGM-FGA 41-77 (.532) 27-74 (.365)
    3PM-3PA 3-13 (.231) 1-11 (.091)
    FTM-FTA 8-10 (.800) 18-25 (.720)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-35 9-35
    Assists 34 14
    Turnovers 11 13
    Steals 7 8
    Blocks 6 3
    Fast Break Points 15 14
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 12 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 26 0

    Top Performers

    Carlos Boozer Boozer
    Points: 23
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Josh Smith Smith
    Points: 18
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 2

    Research Notes

    The Hawks struggled to score for much of Game 6, shooting 36.5 percent from the floor. Their 14 assists tied for the second fewest in a single game this season. When the Hawks did have success, it was when they moved the ball. The Hawks recorded 10 of their 14 assists when they completed two or more passes.
    The Bulls kept Atlanta off balance in the offensive half court for much of the night on Thursday, something they did in all of their wins in the series. The Hawks scored 20 fewer points per game in the half court during losses in the series (65.5) than they did during their wins in Games 1 and 4 (85.5). In Game 6, the Bulls limited Atlanta to 33.3 percent shooting and 59 points in the half court, both single-game lows for the series.
    Carlos Boozer led all scorers with 23 points on Thursday and did much of his damage with the jump shot. Boozer made seven of 10 jumpers in Game 6, including each of his first six attempts.
    The Bulls were sharing the rock on Thursday, assisting on 34 of their 41 field goals. How impressive is that? The 82.9 percent mark is the highest by any team to clinch a playoff series on the road in the past 15 seasons.
    For the 2nd straight series this season, the Bulls closed it out in style. In the 1st round they blasted the Pacers by 27 points, holding them to 39 percent shooting and blocking 9 shots. Thursday Chicago beat the Hawks by 20, holding them to 36.5 percent and blocking 6 shots.
    Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph scored 32 of their 60 points on field goals inside 10 feet of the basket. The duo did the majority of their damage inside during regulation, as they only scored four points from this range in overtime.

    ESPN Stats & Information