(The Sports Xchange) - Al Horford made sure the Chicago Bulls’ six-game winning streak came to an end and that the Atlanta Hawks had a significant home victory.
The Atlanta center scored 33 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out six assists and blocked four shots as the Hawks led all the way in a 120-105 victory over the Bulls on Saturday.
“We understood that this was a good measuring-stick game for us,” Horford said. “We knew that the effort had to be there more than ever. We’ve been playing hard, but we knew we had to play harder. From the beginning of the game, we did that.”
The Hawks (23-15) had six players in double figures while shooting 52.1 percent and forced the Bulls (22-13) into 22 turnovers.
“We need to continue to do what we did today, moving the ball and hustling on defense consistently,” Horford said. “As a team, I feel that we sometimes have lapses in those areas.”
Horford, who got Atlanta off to a fast start with 11 first-quarter points, made 15-of-21 shots and his point total was one shy of the career best for the eight-year veteran.
“Al Horford was very vintage,” Hawks coach Mike Bodenholzer said. “Everyone kind of followed his lead.”
Added Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg: “(Horford) was phenomenal, absolutely. Their bigs are so skilled, it is a tough matchup.”
Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points, but Chicago showed little intensity except during a third-quarter flurry.
With Butler scoring 14 points, the Bulls cut a 13-point halftime deficit to 77-75 with four minutes left in the third quarter thanks in part to a 10-0 run.
However, the Hawks got a rebound basket from Mike Scott at the third-quarter buzzer to go up 89-83 and started the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run for a 102-85 lead.
Paul Millsap had 18 points for the Hawks and Scott scored 14 off the bench. Dennis Schroeder and Jeff Teague had eight and six assists, respectively, while Teague and Kyle Korver each had three steals.
“Guys played great, with a lot of energy and a lot of passion,” Teague said. “Al was the man. He did it at both ends, offensively and defensively.”
The Hawks made 10 of their first 13 shots, including three three-pointers, and led 23-10 six minutes into the game.
The lead was 30-19 after the first quarter and the margin expanded to 41-24 two minutes into the second and to 49-30 three minutes later. The Hawks were up 64-51 at halftime.
“We dug ourselves a big hole obviously early in the game,” Hoiberg said. “They had way more energy coming out of the gate than we did.”
Horford had 15 points at the half to lead four double-figure scorers for Hawks. Horford had 11 points in the first quarter and Scott scored all 10 of his first-half points in the second quarter.
The Hawks were 7-of-12 on three-pointers in the first half and shot 56.3 percent overall, with 32 of their points coming in the paint thanks to 11 Bulls’ turnovers and 18 assists.
“I want to play like this more often,” Bodenholzer said. “It’s not easy, but that’s what you want to do.”
Mirotic had 14 points in the first half for the Bulls, hitting three 3-pointers. Chicago was as close as it was only because 11-for-14 shooting from the foul line.
The Bulls finished 26-of-31, but shot only 43.4 percent from the floor. Derrick Rose, who scored 17 points, shot 5-of-15 and had a game-worst six turnovers.
“For whatever reason, we’re coming out with more energy in the third quarter than we are in the first and that’s got to change,” Hoiberg said. “You’re climbing uphill.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford