Monday, May 9, 2011
Hawks fly to finish against Bulls
By ESPN Stats & Info
Josh Smith scored 23 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and added eight assists as the Atlanta Hawks defeated the Chicago Bulls to even the series at two games apiece.
Smith became the first Hawks player to have a 20-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist game in the playoffs since Moses Malone, who did it in a loss in 1989. No player had done so in a Hawks playoff win since 1966 (Bill Bridges).
Smith, like the rest of his teammates, saved his best for last as he scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta entered the fourth trailing by two with the daunting task of trying to come from behind against the NBA's best fourth-quarter team. (The Bulls had +187 point margin in fourth quarter during the regular season.)
But it was all Atlanta down the stretch as they finished the game on a 16-4 run over the final 4:30 of the game to pull out the victory.
Al Horford (20 points), who shot an efficient 9-for-11 from the field for his fifth career 20-point playoff game, had six points during the Hawks final run.
During that same span, the Bulls only took five field goal attempts thanks to three turnovers, two of which were committed by Derrick Rose.
A quick glance at the stat sheet would make it appear Rose had another stellar game as he notched 34 points to go along with 10 assists, his first 30-point, 10-assist game of this postseason.
However, he needed 32 shots for those 34 points, taking home the rather dubious honor of becoming just the third player in the past 20 postseasons to take 30 field goal attempts and record 10 assists in a non-overtime game.
The others to do so were LeBron James in the 2007 NBA Finals against the Spurs and Kevin Johnson in 1994 against the Rockets. Not coincidentally, both of those players lost as well.
Still the Bulls will likely chalk this loss up to a letdown on the defensive end in the fourth quarter. Atlanta shot 65 percent from the field in the final frame.
Including both the regular season and postseason, the Bulls had allowed opponents to shoot just 41 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, best in the NBA.
According to game footage, the Bulls held the Hawks to only 52 points on possessions in the half court through the first three quarters. However in the fourth, the Hawks scored 31 of their 33 points in the half court, making 12 of their 18 field goal attempts.
The key for Atlanta was getting the ball inside. Of the Hawks 33 fourth-quarter points, 22 came in the paint, with another six coming from the free throw line.