It would have been an impressive achievement for the Bulls to win road games on consecutive nights against two of the three best teams in the Eastern Conference.
Instead, they delivered another reminder that playing without Derrick Rose comes with limitations.
The Bulls hit a brick wall midway through the second quarter and were blown out in Atlanta 92-75 on Saturday.
“I don’t know what you attribute it to, it just didn’t seem like we had it tonight,” Kirk Hinrich told reporters after the game, according to espn.com. “It didn’t seem like we had that edge. We seemed like we were dragging a little bit.”
Maybe it’s understandable after a physical victory at New York on Friday. The Bulls (15-11) clearly didn’t have the same energy.
Atlanta played Friday, as well, but was anxious to bounce back from a 19-point loss at Philadelphia. It took more than three minutes before either team scored Saturday.
“The highs and lows of this thing are unbelievable,” Joakim Noah said. “One night you feel great because you won a big game, and then the next night you come out with the wrong mindset and you lose. Our energy was bad.”
Luol Deng led the Bulls with 11 points, while Noah finished with 10 points, 9 rebounds and 6 turnovers. The Bulls were within 36-33 with five minutes left in the first half, then were outscored 36-14 over the next 13 minutes.
One highlight was Bulls rookie Marquis Teague getting a chance to match up against his older brother Jeff in the second half. Marquis produced 8 points in 16 minutes, while Jeff had 11 points and 8 assists.
Deng injured his left shoulder in the New York game when Jason Kidd slapped at the ball and caused Deng’s left arm to bend awkwardly. He played 34 minutes against Atlanta, but admitted the shoulder is still sore and might be sprained. The Bulls have two days off before they take on Houston at the United Center on Christmas night.
The Bulls got their first look this season at former teammate Kyle Korver. He was traded to the Hawks mostly for economic reasons. The Bulls were going to exceed the luxury tax threshold and the final year of Korver’s contract was worth $5 million.
“I didn’t think (I’d be back),” Korver said before the game, according to espn.com. “I thought when you add up the numbers and you look in the future, that’s probably the case with the whole bench, the Bench Mob, I guess. You kind of figured everyone was going to have to go.
“But (Bulls management) was up front with us. They helped me get into a situation that was good for me. So I’ve got nothing but great things to say about everyone in Chicago.”
Center Al Horford led the Hawks (16-9) with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while guard Lou Williams added 16 points. The Bulls could have moved past Atlanta into third place in the Eastern Conference standings with a win.
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