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Hinrich, Bulls hold off Hawks

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ATLANTA — On a night when the Chicago Bulls weren’t playing at their best, they were able to lean on point guard Kirk Hinrich to carry them through to a victory.

Hinrich made 6 of 7 free throws in the final 43 seconds to give the Bulls a 107-103 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night at Philips Arena. The 10-year veteran scored 14 points, the most important coming on three free throws that put Chicago ahead to stay.

It was the sixth win in seven games for the Bulls, who won all three meetings with Atlanta this season.

“Making those free throws … those were big free throws,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The three he made were huge.”

Atlanta, which trailed by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter, took the lead at 100-99 when forward DeMarre Carroll scored off a pass from Teague. Carroll’s 3-pointer then gave Atlanta a 103-01 lead, but he fouled Hinrich while shooting a 3-pointer and Hinrich made all three free throws to put the Bulls ahead.

“We didn’t play great tonight, but we did whatever was necessary to find a way to win,” Thibodeau said. “That’s the important thing, to scratch them out when you have to scratch them out.”

Chicago (30-26) got 22 points from forward Mike Dunleavy and 20 points and 12 rebounds from center Joakim Noah. Forward Carlos Boozer added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Atlanta (26-30) was led by guard Jeff Teague, who had 11 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and guard Shelvin Mack with 17 points. Atlanta center Elton Brand had a season-high 13 rebounds.

“I thought our group competed at a very high level for 48 minutes tonight,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. “That’s what we’re looking for and that’s what is most important to us.”

Atlanta appeared to have taken the lead on the next possession following Hinrich’s three free throws when forward Mike Scott drained a 3-pointer. But the basket was waved off because Budenholzer signaled for a timeout. Once the ball was inbounded, Teague had it stolen away by Noah.

Atlanta forward Kyle Korver then stole the inbound pass and fed Teague, but he stepped out of bounds while driving the baseline. Atlanta fouled Hinrich, who made both free throws to give the Bulls a 106-103 lead with 11 seconds remaining.

“We missed a lot of close plays,” Korver said. “We had the lead. We got a tough call on the three-point play. Then they made their free throws at the end. When you lose, you always have a couple of things to do differently. We just didn’t close it out.”

The Hawks raced ahead to a 10-point lead in the first period and led by as many as 14 points thanks to the hot shooting of Korver, who made three 3-pointers and scored 10. Boozer used his size advantage to score eight and keep the Bulls close.

“I thought we were slow,” Thibodeau said. “Getting established in the paint was important for us. I thought Carlos did a good job doing that.”

The Bulls caught up with 6:56 left in the second quarter on a 3-pointer from Dunleavy and took the lead on the next possession on a pair of free throws by guard D.J. Augustin. Before the end of the half, there would be two more lead changes and the game would be tied four more times before Chicago had a 54-51 lead at intermission.

The Bulls kept the momentum in the third quarter and led 71-64 on Boozer’s layup with 4:41 left. The Hawks cut the lead to two points, only to have the lead stretched back to five when Augustin made a half-court shot at the buzzer.

NOTES: Atlanta F Kyle Korver extended his streak of consecutive games with a 3-point basket to 125 games. Korver drained his first attempt with 11:38 left in the first and followed with another 3-pointer on the next trip down the court. His three first-quarter treys matched his total from two previous games against the Bulls. … C Dexter Pittman made his Atlanta debut late in the first quarter. Pittman was signed to a 10-day contract on Feb. 22 to help provide depth in the middle. … The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the Hawks have acquired C Mike Muscala from the Spanish League. Muscala, who played at Bucknell, was acquired by the team with the 44th pick in the 2013 via a trade with Dallas. In 20 games with Blusens Monbus Obradoiro of Santiago de Compostela, Muscala averaged 14.6 points and a league-leading 7.8 rebounds. … Atlanta F Paul Millsap missed his second straight game with a right knee contusion suffered Feb. 21. Millsap is expected to miss at least one more game. C Pero Antic (strees fracture right ankle) will miss at least one more game and C Gustavo Ayon (right shoulder) was unavailable on Tuesday. … Chicago G Jimmy Butler (bruised ribs) missed his second consecutive game. … Among the celebrities in attendance was former NBA great Julius Erving and singer Glenn Frey, a member of “The Eagles,” whose band had played Philips Arena the previous night. … Atlanta plays its next six games on the road, starting with Wednesday’s game in Boston. Chicago returns home Wednesday for a game with Golden State.

Alan is an experienced writer of online betting and casino guides. He is one of the main editors of Basketballinsiders.

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