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Tuesday, January 3, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Bulls 76, Hawks 74

By Nick Friedell



CHICAGO -- Let's take a quick look at how the Chicago Bulls earned a hard-fought 76-74 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at the United Center.

How it happened: Luol Deng scored the game-winning basket with just under 4 seconds left to play. Derrick Rose finished with 30 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter. The Bulls were lucky to grab this win considering they played their worst offensive half of the Thibodeau era in the first half and looked flustered throughout most of the game. Once again, the Bench Mob came in and gave Thibodeau solid minutes late in the game.

What it means: The moral of the story is that no matter how poorly the Bulls play, they can usually still find a way to win. That was the case again late as Rose got angry and took over the contest. The bigger issue for the Bulls is that once again Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer were benched throughout almost the entire fourth quarter. Noah came in and made the game-winning pass to Deng, but the fact that he and Boozer couldn't find minutes on the floor during crunch time for the second time in just over a week is a serious red flag. Yes, Thibodeau wants to stick with certain lineups, but Noah and Boozer make a combined $140 million to be difference makers. Up to this point, when they are on the floor together they haven't been.

Stats of the night: The Bulls shot 24 percent from the field in the first half ... and still won. Rose had more points (17) than the Bulls scored in the first (15) second (11) and third (16) quarters.

What's next: The Bulls look for their fifth win in a row Wednesday night when they take on the Detroit Pistons.