NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 7th (All times eastern)
Chicago Bulls (7-1) at Atlanta Hawks (5-3), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - One of only two teams with just a single loss this season, the Chicago Bulls target their seventh straight win tonight against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena.
The Bulls will close out a three-game road trip tonight and have won the first two portions of the trek, including Friday's 97-83 victory over Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Reigning MVP Derrick Rose filled the stat sheet with 21 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Luol Deng added 21 points as well for Chicago, which led by as many as 17 points and is tied with Miami for the best record in the NBA (7-1).
"We definitely were contesting their shots. That was the biggest thing," Rose said postgame. "Other than when they came down and shot the three threes to get back in the game, I think we did a good job of contesting their shots."
Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 13 boards for the Bulls, while Kyle Korver ended with 18 points thanks to five three-pointers. The hot start for the Bulls is the best since the 1996-97 squad opened the campaign with a 12-0 ledger. The Bulls' six straight victories have been by an average of 16 points. Guard Richard Hamilton sat out a third game with a sore left groin and is questionable for tonight.
Chicago has won four in a row away from the United Center and is 5-1 as the guest this season.
Meanwhile, the Hawks have won just twice (2-3) since opening the season with three straight victories and handed the Charlotte Bobcats a 102-96 overtime loss on Friday.
Josh Smith finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Hawks, who were playing the middle test of a back-to-back-to-back and had just lost in triple- overtime to the Heat on Thursday. Miami was without both LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in that one.
Marvin Williams and Al Horford each chipped in 15 points in the win. Joe Johnson finished 14 points for Atlanta.
"I told [our guys] before the game this was going to be a gut-check," Hawks head coach Larry Drew said. "We didn't get in until three o'clock this morning...and our guys gutted it up. That's what it's going to take."
The Hawks will play five of their next seven games at home. Guard Tracy McGrady missed the win over the Bobcats because of a bruised knee and is questionable for this evening.
Chicago already defeated Atlanta, 76-74, in the Windy City on Jan. 3 this season behind a 30-point effort from Rose. Deng had 21 points for the Bulls, who have won three straight against the Hawks.
01/07 10:48:23 ET