The Bulls took care of business in a necessary 116-81 win over the lowly Atlanta Hawks. Here's some observations:
Bulls put pedal to the metal early and don’t let up
The first three possessions of this game — one ending in a forced, late shot-clock 3-point attempt, then two turnovers — were ominous. But after falling behind 4-0, the hosts mounted a 14-0 run over the next two-and-half minutes, culminating with a Hawks timeout just before the eight-minute mark of the period.
The Bulls ended the first with a 35-19 advantage, shooting 70% from the field (4-for-6 from three) and outrebounding the Hawks by a whopping 16-4 margin — perks of not missing many buckets.
They didn’t take their foot off the gas from there, never leading by less than 11 for the rest of the game. As a team, they finished the night 49.4% from the field (15-for-31 from three) and got out without much of a sweat.
Lauri Markkanen looked vintage
I’m not saying it was Flu Game Pt. 2 (in the wake of his stomach bug), but Lauri Markkanen balled out. He was aggressive moving on- and off-ball all night, pulling from long-range without hesitation and driving downhill with gumption.
Markkanen powered the Bulls’ first-quarter stampede, scoring 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting in the opening frame. Then, when the Hawks pulled to within 46-35 in the second, he stroked a 3-pointer that sparked and 18-8 run to end the half — the Bulls led 64-43 entering the third.
He finished with 25 points on 8-for-14 shooting (4-for-9 from three) in 21:43 minutes. Steady shooting improvement has defined his December (he’s up to 40.2% for the month, now), so this was a performance worth building on.
John Collins got his buckets
In just about the only smudge on this performance, John Collins (again) had a big night against the Bulls. He finished with a game-high 34 points, along with 8 rebounds and 2 blocks on 14-for-26 shooting.
The Hawks never got particularly close after the Bulls’ aforementioned first-quarter barrage, but in moments where they did flash signs of life, Collins was at the heart of it. In a third quarter that saw the Bulls’ offense stagnate a tad (but only lose three points off their lead), Collins had 14 points and 2 blocks.
All in all, it’s hard to ding the Bulls too much — they took care of business overall tonight (the Hawks managed only 81 points) and Collins is a rare talent.
Bulls check all the boxes — and freshen their legs (sort of)
The Bulls did everything they had to do to win tonight. They got out and ran, tallying 25 fastbreak points and 26 points off 21 Hawks turnovers. They won on the interior, outboarding Atlanta 51-39 by night’s end and outscoring them 48-40 in the paint. They shot well and didn't allow the Hawks to do the same. And everyone got involved. Some fun statlines:
Zach LaVine: 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 7-for-15 shooting (3-for-7 from three), many good dunks
Tomas Satoransky: 11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists 5-for-8 from the field
Wendell Carter Jr.: 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2-for-3 from three (the latter a development many Bulls fans have been clamoring for)
Coby White: 18 points, 5 rebounds, 8-for-11 shooting, 2-for-3 from three (ignore the 5 turnovers)
But even with a grueling month of January ahead, Boylen did stick with the starters until around the five-minute mark of the fourth, despite leading by 20+ for most of the period. But still, no Bulls starter other than Kris Dunn finished with more than 30 minutes played — marginally fresh legs will be necessary, moving forward.
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