Needing to win to avoid going back to Atlanta down three-games-to-two, the Chicago Bulls clamped down on defense in the fourth quarter last night in Chicago and outscored the Hawks 26-15 in the final stanza to retain home-court advantage with a 95-83 victory that puts the Bulls one win from the Eastern Conference Finals.
Derrick Rose led the way for Chicago with 33, while Taj Gibson scored 11 in the fourth quarter to give the Bulls an unexpected boost. Luol Deng added 23 points, and the Chicago D made a one-point lead after three look like a laugher on the scoreboard by game’s end.
The Bulls pulled away from a 70-69 lead early in the fourth when they ran off nine straight points, and when Atlanta got back to within six, Chicago scored another eight straight, and it was all over.
Jeff Teague lead five Hawks in double-figures with 21, but Atlanta went only 1-of-12 from downtown and was outscored 21-14 from the line. In a playoff game, those are the things that get you defeated, and now the Hawks have to win in Atlanta on Thursday or their season will be over.
As for the Bulls, they are just that one win away from doing what they have not done since the days of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
It is safe to say that Chicago is ready.