(The Sports Xchange) - The Atlanta Hawks made sure they went into the All-Star break feeling good by sending the Chicago Bulls into the schedule break with a thud.
The Hawks rebounded from back-to-back losses to the Orlando Magic by defeating the Bulls 113-90 on Wednesday at the United Center, handing Chicago its fourth straight loss.
Paced by eight players who scored double figures and another strong shooting performance from the 3-point line, the Hawks (31-24) took control in the second quarter never let up.
“We responded better once we gained the lead,” said center Al Horford, who finished with 16 points.
“I feel like we stayed in the moment. Our last game (against Orlando), we got up and I felt like on offense we kind of started jacking shots. Tonight was different, and I feel like we learned from our last game.”
Dennis Schroder led the Hawks with 18 points and Jeff Teague finished with 17 points. Also adding double figures for Atlanta were Paul Millsap (15 points), Mike Muscala (11 points), Kyle Korver (10 points), Thabo Sefolosha (10 points) and Mike Scott (10 points).
The Hawks finished 13 for 33 from the 3-point line for their sixth straight game hitting at least 10 from behind the arc.
“We have a lot of guys that shoot them,” said Korver, who went 2 for 3 on 3-pointers and moved past Chauncey Billups for eighth all-time in NBA/ABA history for career 3s (1,832).
“When we’re hitting 3s and the floor is a little more spaced, that’s usually when we’re at our best.”
The Bulls (27-25) allowed at least 100 points for the seventh straight game and fell to 1-6 in that stretch.
Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds for his 30th double-double of the season to lead Chicago.
Doug McDermott had 17 points, Derrick Rose added 14 points and rookie Bobby Portis finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who are 5-13 since a running off a season-high, six-game winning streak Dec. 28 to Jan. 7.
They’re also dealing with key injuries to guard Jimmy Butler (knee sprain) and center Joakim Noah, who’s out for the season following shoulder surgery.
“It’s frustrating,” said forward Taj Gibson, who left the game in the second half with a left foot strain and didn’t return.
“It’s very frustrating, because we have more than enough to win. We used to win games with less than this. I just think it’s all mental. It’s extremely frustrating and it hurts my heart.”
Atlanta has won the first two games of the season series against the Bulls by comfortable margins. The Hawks won the first game 120-105 in Atlanta, and never trailed.
This time, Chicago built a seven-point lead in the first six minutes of the first quarter. Atlanta’s 10-2 run erased it and the Hawks trailed 29-28 at the end of the first.
They surged into the lead in the second, built a 53-48 lead at halftime and cruised in the final two quarters.
Atlanta outscored Chicago 60-42 in the second half, and made the Bulls again pay for too many turnovers. The Hawks scored 25 points off 19 Bulls turnovers, after scoring 25 points off 22 turnovers in the first game.
Asked to explain Chicago’s struggling defense in the transition game, Rose summed it up in just six words.
“I can’t,” he said. “Who can? Who can?”
Editing by Sudipto Ganguly