Jimmy Butler scored the final four points of the game including hitting two free throws with just :02 seconds left to give the Chicago Bulls a 106-104 win over the Atlanta Hawks. It was the Bulls 3rd win in a row and 4th in their last 5 games. The win also catapulted the Bulls into 7th place in the Eastern Conference.
Chicago took the lead in the 1st quarter and built a seven point lead at 17-10 on a Rajon Rondo lay up with 6:5 left in the quarter. Atlanta then went on a 9 to 2 run to tie the game at 19 all with 2:44 left to play. The Bulls did score four of the final six points of the quarter to take a 23-21 lead after one quarter.
While the Bulls where able to hold onto the lead for the entire 2nd quarter they cold never really get to big of a lead on Atlanta. The Biggest lead the Bulls could build was eight points at 52-44 very late in the quarter when Rajon Rondo scored with just :26 seconds left. Dwight Howard got a tip in for the Hawks just before the buzzer to make it a 52-46 game going into halftime.
The Bulls where able to push their lead to double digits twice in the 3rd quarter the last time was 9:17 left to play at 61-51. The Hawks then came back with a 21 to 10 run to take the lead at 72-71 with 2:47 lead in the quarter. There where five lead changes and three ties down the stretch of the 3rd quarter before Atlanta was able to take a five point lead 84-79 heading into the 4th quarter.
Atlanta scored the first five points of the 4th quarter to make their lead 10 points at 89-79. It took the Bulls almost the rest of the quarter to cut into the Atlanta lead and then when Jimmy Butler hit a 3-pointer with 1:59 left to play the game was tied at 102. Dennis Schroder gave the Hawks the lead back at 104-102 when he hit a short jumper, but Butler evened the game again when he scored on a lay up with :32 seconds left. After an Atlanta time out Schroder lost the basketball out of bounds with :25 seconds left. As the Bulls where looking for the last shot Kent Bazemore fouled Butler with just :02 seconds left to play. Butler went to the line and made both free throw giving the Bulls a 106-104 lead and when Tim Hardaway Jr’s 3-point attempt missed the Bulls as time expired the Bulls had their 3rd win in a row and where back in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Jimmy Butler was the games high scorer with 33 points. Butler also handed out more assists than anyone else with 8. Rajon Rondo had 25 points and a team high 11 rebounds. Paul Zipser added 10 points while Denzel Valentine came off the Chicago bench to score 13 points.
Dennis Schroder was Atlanta’s top scorer with 29 points and he also handed out a team high 6 assists. Tim Hardaway Jr had 20 points while Dwight Howard and Ersan Ilyasova had had 13 points. Howard also grabbed a game high 12 rebounds.
Chicago improved to 37-39 on the season with the win and they’ll turn right around and try to keep their winning streak going as they head to New Orleans to face the 33-43 Pelicans at 5:00 p.m. c.s.t. Sunday. Atlanta is 39-37 after the loss and this was the first of back to back games for Atlanta as well. The Hawks travel to Brooklyn to face the team with the worst record in the NBA the 17-59 Nets Sunday afternoon.