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Rapid Reaction: Bulls 99, Hawks 82

5/6/2011

ATLANTA -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a convincing 99-82 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday to take a 2-1 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

How it happened: Derrick Rose happened. The Bulls point guard went off for a career-high 44 points as the Bulls played their best game of the postseason. Rose was dominant from the start and didn't seem to be favoring his sprained left ankle. He drove to the rim and created shots for his teammates, but he finally found his jump shot, going 16-for-27 from the field. Aside from Rose's stellar play, the Bulls have to be encouraged by their defensive effort. The Hawks had no rhythm on offense aside from a fast early start from point guard Jeff Teague. Keith Bogans and Luol Deng played solid defense, and Joakim Noah added 15 rebounds. Coach Tom Thibodeau will surely find ways in which they can improve, but he has to be very pleased with the way his team, especially Rose, responded.

What it means: For one night at least, the Bulls looked like the team that won 62 games in the regular season. They were dominant in almost every phase. They were determined to break the Hawks' will in this one, and they did that. What will get overlooked in the shadow of Rose's performance is how well the Bench Mob played. They gave the Bulls a huge lift during the second quarter, keeping a lead the team would never give up. It's also worth noting just how well Bogans and Deng played defensively. They did not allow Joe Johnson and Jamal Crawford to get going and locked them down all night. If Rose plays like this, and the Bulls play defense the same way they did, the Hawks will not win another game in this series.

Stats of the night: Aside from Rose's career night, the Bulls out-rebounded the Hawks 47-34. Johnson and Crawford combined for two points in the second half.

What's next: The Bulls will practice Saturday afternoon as they prepare for Game 4 on Sunday night at Philips Arena.