Video: Every Atlanta starter scored in double figures in the Hawks 92-75 win vs. the Bulls on Saturday night. Atlanta ended a two-game losing streak with the win. The AJC’s Chris Vivlamore reports.
Lou Williams provided the energy the Hawks needed desperately.
Williams was in the starting lineup and scored 14 first-half points as the Hawks dominated the Bulls 92-75 Saturday night at Philips Arena.
The Hawks led by as many as 26 points, a cushion built in early in the fourth quarter, en route to a win remarkably different than their previous four games. The Hawks had lost three of those four games, trailing by at least 17 points in each, including an 18-point Friday at the 76ers. The win came in overtime for the lowly Wizards.
It was a different story Saturday.
The Hawks (16-9) put on impressive effort, particularly in the second quarter, en route to the victory that snapped a two-game losing streak. The victory was the 100th of Larry Drew’s head coaching career.
“I think it’s a lot of little things,” Kyle Korver said of the difference between the past two games. “We got embarrassed (Friday) night. C’mon, we did. It was a game that we felt we should have been in and we got smacked pretty good. So you are going to come back and play hard.”
Al Horford led the Hawks in scoring as he rebounded from three sub-par games. Horford finished with 20 points (9 of 12 shooting) and 10 rebounds. He had totaled just 25 points on 9-for-35 shooting.
“I was taking the same kind of shots (before),” Horford said. “They felt good and they just weren’t falling. Tonight, they were. It was a better night. But, more importantly, we won and we won playing the right way.”
Williams finished with 16 points and Korver (13), Josh Smith (12) and Jeff Teague (11) rounded out the double-figure scorers for the Hawks.
The Bulls (15-11) had a two-game win streak snapped and suffered their first road loss in the Eastern Conference this season. The loss came one night after the Bulls, the Central Division leaders, defeated the Knicks in New York. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 11 points.
The Hawks have victories over four of the six current division leaders this season – the Bulls, Grizzlies, Clippers and Thunder.
“We just don’t want to disappoint ourselves against good teams,” Smith said. “We get ourselves revved up for anybody we play because you can get beat anytime. We wanted to be able to play hard. This team is a physical team and we wanted to match their physicality. We wanted to try to exceed it. Tonight we did that.”
The Hawks started with a small lineup despite the front-court size of the Bulls. The disadvantage was an issue Friday night in a lopsided loss at the 76ers.
The Hawks jumped all over the Bulls in the second quarter and took a 53-37 halftime lead. They outscored the Bulls 36-16 in the quarter which included a 17-2 run. Williams punctuated the streak with an and-one dunk with 2:55 remaining the quarter, prompting a pose for the screaming crowd. Williams finished with 14 first-half points to pace three double-digit scorers with Horford (12) and Kover (11).
“It was different for me,” Williams said. “I’m a rhythm player. Once you get used to a certain role you kind of thrive on that. For me to be thrown into the starting lineup was a little different. Luckily it worked out for us and we’ll see what happens in the future.”
The Hawks ended the second quarter with an 8-0 run which included two 3-pointers from Korver. His buzzer-beater to end the half sent the Hawks rolling into intermission.
It was a slow start for the Hawks who shot just 36.8 percent (7 for 19) in the first quarter. They missed their first six shots before a 3-pointer by Williams. The teams combined to miss their first 10 shots of the game.
Drew and players singled out Teague’s play, particularly on the defensive end, to start the game and set the tone.
“I wish I knew the answer to that,” Drew said on why his team played so differently from night to night. “As a coach, it’s my job to look at the team and access what I see. One word, to me, sums it up and that’s energy. I don’t care what our strategy is going into the game or what the game plan is, if we don’t put energy into what we do, we won’t be successful. Tonight we were very energized from the very beginning. Last night we weren’t. You can see the difference.”
The Hawks completed a stretch of four games in five days and are now off until Wednesday when they host the Pistons.
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