Atlanta Hawks

In a much-needed victory over the Hawks, Tomas Satoransky showed just how much he means to the Bulls

In a much-needed victory over the Hawks, Tomas Satoransky showed just how much he means to the Bulls

On a night when Otto Porter left the game at halftime with a left foot contusion, Wendell Carter Jr. played only 13 minutes and Zach LaVine, Thad Young and Coby White shot a combined 8-for-29, the Bulls won by 20. On the road. On the second night of a back-to-back.

Imagine that.

Coming off a loss to the Lakers that would have crushed the souls of most, the Bulls submitted their most impressive game of the season in a 113-93 win in Atlanta Wednesday night. They played hard, out-rebounding their opponent for only the third time this season. They played fast, winning the fast-break points battle 18-6. And they played active, forcing 24 Hawks turnovers while only allowing 30 three-point attempts (a figure Jim Boylen was especially pleased with). 

The story of the night, though, was Tomas Satoransky, who notched a career performance — 27 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds on 10-of-13 shooting (4-of-5 from deep) — as other stars and franchise cornerstones melted into the background:

“It was super important,” Satoransky said of the win. “I think we were all frustrated the way the last game [against the Lakers] went, but this league is all about that: Forgetting that you almost beat one of the best teams playing 36 minutes of good basketball, and you have to bounce back in another city. I think we did that today and hopefully this can be a turnaround game for us.”

In the bounceback victory, Satoransky flashed the litany of capabilities that made him such an enticing pickup for the Bulls this offseason. He drained catch-and-shoot threes. He probed and pulled up off the dribble when appropriate. He made plays for others in the pick-and-roll, while not sacrificing opportunities to get to the hoop, himself. He was a leader in the fast-break. En route to an efficient 27 points on 13 shots, the 6-foot-7 combo guard routinely abused a favorable matchup against the diminutive Trae Young, and got more than a few great looks either at the rim or from floater range. This is the good stuff right here:

But perhaps most impressive was Satoransky’s work on the defensive end, especially in helping contain Young. The blitzing strategy the Bulls have employed defending pick-and-rolls has been the subject of much derision in the early going this season, but their aggressiveness paid off against a lethargic Atlanta squad on Wednesday. Satoransky and Kris Dunn—who had five steals on the evening—pestered Young all night, combining to hold him to just 9 points and 0-of-8 shooting from three-point range.

“We just tried to make things complicated for him, not to give him open looks, crowd on him,” Satoransky said. “We were aggressive in offense, as well against him, and we tried to run every time we had [the] opportunity.”

Granted, this game was against a short-handed team that isn’t known for its defensive prowess to begin with. But for Satoransky, who was averaging 6.5 points and 5.4 assists on 39.1% shooting (and had yet to score in double digits) entering the night, this type of performance illustrates the ceiling of value he can potentially provide this Bulls team as a playmaker and next-man-up. 

He doesn’t have to smash personal records or play up to MJ-level standards every night—whether this season ends with a playoff berth or a high lottery pick, Satoransky will have a significant role to play in making this team's parts, and the sum of those parts, better.

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Fact-checking the best snippets of Lloyd Pierce's candid postgame presser following blowout loss to Bulls

Fact-checking the best snippets of Lloyd Pierce's candid postgame presser following blowout loss to Bulls

As euphoric as the 113-93 drubbing the Bulls dealt the Atlanta Hawks was for Bulls fans, players and management alike, there’s a second side to every story. And the Hawks’ side to this one… ain’t pretty. 

Sure, they, like the Bulls, were on the second night of a back-to-back and had to travel to Atlanta overnight Tuesday night. Unlike the Bulls, though, the Hawks won the front end of their back-to-back — quite impressively, in fact (108-100 over the San Antonio Spurs) — and have, for the most part, lived up to the cautious preseason hype that typically surrounds young, talented NBA teams.

So, needless to say, Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce wasn’t thrilled to get run off his home floor by (let’s face it) one of the worst teams in the league so far this season, and his postgame press conference reflected that. Pierce didn’t hold back, taking refreshingly candid shots at everyone from his own players to Jim Boylen in comments to assorted media members. Here’s a short clip to give you a taste:

But, you know what, even the most superheroic of athletes are allowed an off day. We’re all human, after all. In light of finding footage of Pierce’s full presser, we ran a quick fact-check on the best snippets, in an attempt to figure out whether Pierce was justified in his outrage, or if he was being a little too hard on his guys. 

Let’s begin:

“I think the best thing about tonight is we didn’t waste a good game. No one had a great game. We stunk together.”

Fact-check: Mostly true

This is a tough one. The Hawks only had one player with a positive point differential in the game (Vince Carter, who had 14 points and shot 3-of-6 from three, was a +9), but in a 20-point loss you’re naturally going to be hard-pressed to find many guys who had prolonged, net-positive stretches. Jabari Parker had 18 points on 50% shooting, but also turned the ball over four times. Eh. He’s right. They mostly stunk.

“Tonight, I’ll actually say we were young, and I don’t say that much, we were young.” 

Fact-check: Mostly true

According to RealGM’s roster composition database, there are actually 13 teams in the NBA with a lower average age than the Hawks (the Bulls included!). However, the average age of the Atlanta Hawks that played tonight was 24.3. Throw in the 24 turnovers the Hawks committed in the game, and we'll allow this premise. (Side bar: take Vince Carter out of this equation, and that average age number becomes 22.7.) 

“Their motivation was, they blew a lead last night, they were up 18, they lead the NBA in blown leads already. They know they should’ve won last night, they blew it, so they came here knowing, let’s not let this one get away.”

Fact-check: True

All of that happened, yes.

“I didn’t know how to speed the game up. [Jim Boylen] called two timeouts in the fourth quarter, I’m looking at him, like, ‘You don’t need to sub just let it go.’”

Fact-check: Patently false

The Bulls took three timeouts in the fourth quarter, good sir. And all of them were necessary. They’re developing a bench.

“Chicago will never let Trae [Young] have an easy game for the rest of his career.”

Fact-check: Remains to be seen

Pierce said this in reference to the 49 points Young dropped on the Bulls in March, and how it was the memory of that performance that motivated the team in containing him to 9 points and 0-of-8 from behind the arc tonight. And maybe Pierce has a point. The Bulls defense was swarming tonight, especially on pick-and-roll blitzes, and they often made a point of attacking Young on the offensive side of the floor, as well.

But never another easy game for the rest of his career? Let’s wait for the rebuild to fully pan out first. 

“The game is over, and we don’t have to worry about them anymore.”

Fact-check: False

The Bulls and Hawks meet again at the UC on December 11. Spooky season never ends.

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How to watch Bulls at Hawks: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

How to watch Bulls at Hawks: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

The Bulls have struggled out of the gate in 2019-20, losing games to beatable opponents such as the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Wednesday, the Bulls have a chance to buck this trend, when they take on an Atlanta Hawks team led by point guard Trae Young.

Like the Bulls, the Hawks are one of the younger teams in the NBA (minus 43-year-old Vince Carter). It's sure to be an exciting game, and here's how you can watch, listen and stream the action:

Date: Wednesday, November 6
Time: 6:30 p.m. CST
Location: State Farm Arena | Atlanta, GA
TV: NBC Sports Chicago 
Stream: MyTeams

NBC Sports Chicago Coverage

SportsTalk Live: 5:30 p.m. CST
Bulls Pregame: 6:00 p.m. CST
Bulls Postgame Live: 10:00 p.m. CST*
Bulls Outsiders: 10:30 p.m. CST**

* - Immediately following conclusion of the game
** - Immediately following conclusion of PostGame Live

Bulls Outsiders can also be streamed on Twitter and YouTube.

Can't watch this game because your provider dropped NBC Sports Chicago?  Go to MYSPORTSCHICAGO.COM or Call 1-844-700-NBCS to get your Chicago sports back!