This was just another night in the remarkable resurrection of D.J. Augustin.
Unwanted by Indiana, released by Toronto, now a top scorer on a playoff-bound team -- Augustin's 23 points led the Bulls to a 105-92 victory over Atlanta on Wednesday at Philips Arena.
The performance even led coach Tom Thibodeau to eschew his usual postgame speech of "know your job, do your job" or "we have more than enough to win with."
"He's saved our season," Thibodeau said of the veteran point guard. "He's a big shot-maker. He's made big plays. Not only his shooting, his play-making. You trap him, he'll hit the open man. D.J. can beat you a lot of different ways."
Augustin knocked down 4 of 8 shots from 3-point land against the Hawks. The Bulls are now 15-3 when Augustin drains at least 3 baskets from long range.
There were plenty of playoff-race implications that went along with this win. The Bulls gained a game on Brooklyn in the battle for homecourt advantage in the first round. The Bulls lead the Nets by two games in the loss column with seven remaining.
They also did a favor for Phil Jackson, the greatest coach in Bulls history turned president of the New York Knicks. Atlanta's loss sent the Hawks into a virtual tie with the Knicks for the last playoff spot in the East, although the Hawks have 1 fewer defeat. Atlanta has now gone 7-21 since Feb. 4.
"I think they're well aware (of the playoff race). Their job is to know where we are," Thibodeau told reporters after the game. "But the more important thing is to be ready for each day. Tomorrow, you come in, you study, you analyze what went well, what didn't go as well as we would have liked make the corrections, get ready for Milwaukee, concentrate on improvement -- nothing changes. You do the same thing day after day."
Meanwhile, Thibodeau won his 200th game as an NBA head coach, but he was in no mood to celebrate.
"I've got a good team," he said.
The Bulls (43-32) used a 16-3 run in the second quarter to take control of this game. Augustin finished the run with a driving lay in to make it 54-45 with 2:38 left in the first half.
Atlanta got as close as 2 points a couple of times in the third quarter, but the Bulls stayed in control throughout the fourth.
Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich added 17 points each. Joakim Noah finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists.
Augustin scored a career-high 33 points on Sunday in Boston and continued his run as the Bulls' most reliable late-game scorer.
"D-Rose is the face of this team," Augustin said. "I'm just trying to come in, just trying to help us out, do whatever I can do to help us win and go forward in the playoffs."