Ten observations from watching Bulls 91, Hawks 86 on TV . . .
1. The Hawks finished 1-4 on their road trip and return to Philips to play the Nuggets on Friday. They are tired and injured and will be underdogs again for their home opener. Dennis Schroder might play, though. The Hawks need him in the worst way as a creator on offense, especially late in games.
2. The Hawks said they were rejuvenated by returning to Atlanta after the Miami game. It didn't look that way for much of the game. Then Kent Bazemore and Mike Muscala hit a couple of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to give the Hawks a lead with six minutes to go. After Chicago took back the lead, Marco Bellineli made two late threes to give the Hawks another advantage. The Hawks don't quit but they also don't finish.
3. In the first half Mike Muscala was over-helping from the weak side and leaving Lauri Markkanen open at the three-point line but Markkanen wasn’t making them. After halftime Markkanen kept driving hard to the basket when Muscala either over-helped on the strong side or otherwise lost track of him. In the final minute Markkanen shook free on a pick-and-pop to bury a three over Muscala's decent close-out for a 90-86 lead. Malcolm Delaney missed an open 3 and that was it for the Hawks.
4. The Bulls built their second-half lead and re-gained it in large part because the Hawks couldn’t defend their guards without fouling. The Bulls were in the bonus with after less than six minutes of the fourth quarter. Jerian Grant, Quincy Pondexter, Justin Holiday and David Nwaba combined for 23 free-throw attempts in the game as the Bulls enjoyed a 22-11 advantage in made free throws.
5. Hawks rookie John Collins had another productive, efficient game: 13 points on six shots, five rebounds, one block, and one turnover. Collins played 25 minutes compared to 23 for Dewayne Dedmon. After giving way to Dedmon in the fourth quarter Collins checked back in for the finish.
6. Collins continued his trend of making good plays soon after entering the game. This was the first one:
Soon after that Collins stopped Robin Lopez on a field goal attempt under the basket and made a 16-foot jumper over Lopez. Later during that same stint Collins forced a shot-clock violation against Lopez by bodying him and preventing him from starting a move to the basket. And Collins made a long 2 later in the first half.
7. Bazemore has been assertive in both games without back court mate Dennis Schroder. Against the Heat Bazemore was effective as a play-maker on screen-rolls. Against the Bulls he was taking contact on drives and finishing.
Bazemore also pestered the Bulls by stalking the passing lanes on defense. His outside shots weren't falling, though, and he settled for them a bit after halftime. Bazemore also had a defensive lap that allowed Holiday to score a key basket at winning time.
8. Lopez gave the Hawks problems with nifty moves around the basket. Dedmon and Collins are athletic defenders but can have trouble with beefy post bangers, even limited ones like Lopez. Of course, at the other end Collins gave Lopez fits with his quickness.
9. Taurean Prince’s strength, length and athleticism allow him to bang his way to the basket and rise for clean looks. The next step is for him to finish more consistently. The jumper also still isn’t there.
10. Isaiah Taylor had another solid game. His speed really shows up in how quickly he gets over screens. It still seems as if Taylor is reluctant to take scoring opportunities when they are available. When Taylor signed, he said the way for him to prove he belongs in the league is to get his teammates good shots. I get that but if he picks his spots he can use his speed to create high-percentage chances for himself.
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