Hawks don't need legend's help to blow past Bulls
On Saturday, Bulls fans bid farewell to Dwyane Wade.
With Atlanta in town on Wednesday, disinterested fans kept things lively at the United Center by chanting, "We want Vince," in the direction of 41-year-old Vince Carter, sitting at the end of the Hawks bench.
As the game started to get out of hand in the fourth quarter, players on the Hawks bench stood up and joined the chants, waving their arms to egg on the crowd.
Unlike Wade, Carter has never said this is his last season. So there was no formal tribute during the Bulls' 121-101 loss to Atlanta. The Hawks jumped to a 28-9 lead as forward John Collins scored a career-high 35 points.
The Bulls had been 6-0 against the bottom-five teams in the standings, so that run is over, as is the defensive improvement the Bulls showed a few weeks ago.
"Got to guard. You can't just play offense. You've got to guard," Kris Dunn said in the locker room. "To have a good defense, everybody's got to be in sync. We've all got to be one. We've got to know what we're doing. In this league, one little mistake can lead to open shots. When there are multiple mistakes, it's easy buckets."
Atlanta (15-32) has a young roster, but they attacked the Bulls without hesitation. Every mismatch or missed switch usually resulted in a quick easy basket.
"I think some of it's personnel," coach Jim Boylen said. "I think we've got some young guys playing different positions and some guys stepping into roles maybe they haven't played before. We miss Wendell (Carter Jr.'s) physical toughness, his competitiveness. Our schemes are different when he plays, so we're adjusting to that."
Lauri Markkanen suggested the Bulls spent most of their time in practice working on defense once Boylen became head coach on Dec. 3. When they shifted the focus to offense, the defense slipped.
"I don't know. We've been focusing on offense, so I don't know if our basics are kind of slipping," Markkanen said. "We've just got to get back to working on defense more and go from there."
Jabari Parker didn't play either on Wednesday. There had been no mention of an injury until the Bulls announced during halftime Parker was suffering from a right patellar tendon strain. So he got the same number of minutes as Vince Carter, Wendell Carter Jr. and Carmelo Anthony.
"Happened before the game, it was surprising to all of us," Boylen said. "I'm disappointed for him. We'll see how that shakes out. Hopefully it's something that will pass quickly."
The game featured a minor dust up in the final seconds, first when Chandler Hutchison delivered a mildly hard foul to stop a Justin Anderson layup attempt. It continued when Bobby Portis pushed his elbow into Hawks center Alex Len during the ensuing free throw.
After the Hawks opened a 20-point lead, the Bulls finally got some traction late in the second quarter, finishing with a 21-7 run. In the final minute, Portis hit a 3-pointer, Zach LaVine (23 points) hit a running layup, then Markkanen (22 points) drained a 32-footer at the buzzer to make it 66-60 at halftime. Atlanta stretched the lead as soon as the second half began.
Hawks rookie guard Trae Young missed his first 7 shots before nailing an open 3-pointer late in the third quarter. He did pile up 12 assists to go with his 5 points on 1-of-12 shooting.