Bulls Lose “Must Win” Game to Hawks; Playoff Hopes Dwindling

Colin Hegener, Writer

The Chicago Bulls lost a tough game last Saturday night to the Atlanta Hawks in the State Farm Arena, dropping this one 108-97 as the absence of Zach Lavine continues to be a factor.

The Bulls second All-Star, big man Nikola Vucevic, was also out for the Bulls in this contest, which did not help things in the slightest. Zach Lavine will be back “in the next one to two games” according to head coach Billy Donovan, but it might be too little to late.

Chicago came into the game three games back of the Wizards for the last play in spot with nine games left to play. Every loss the Bulls rack up kills their playoff hopes and odds even more.

Billy Donovan said after the game, “Yeah, I think we’re just in a slump right now. Not having Zach doesn’t help that very much, but I give the rest of this team credit for battling night in and night out. You wouldn’t see too many teams do that if they lost their superstar for the critical stretch of the season.”

The effort is certainly there as Donovan points out, but it seems like the Bulls just don’t have the chemistry or talent to beat the teams currently ahead of them on their schedule.

Bulls’ veteran Thad Young stepped into the starting lineup due to Vucevic’s absence and had great success, putting up 20 points with 9 assists and 7 rebounds.

Rookie Patrick Williams also had a great game, putting up 19 points on over 50% shooting from the field.

Young said after the game, “Like coach said earlier, I thought out effort was great tonight. Sure, it might of not been the result we were hoping for, but I love the way this team battles. You can see it on display night in and night out.”

The Bulls, however, won the battle on the interior, out scoring the Hawks in the paint by 18 points, as well as on the boards by 5. They also limited their turnovers to 13, but the Hawks still turned those into 21 points. Their defense wasn’t the best, as the Hawks shot 50% from the floor as a team, but they locked down the interior very well all night.

Guys stepped up in their roles with Zach and Nikola out, and that is all you can ask for as a fan. The Bulls’ playoff hopes are certainly on the edge, but you can tell this isn’t a Bulls team from the past, the team as a whole gives complete effort every single night.