The Atlanta Hawks are trying to win consecutive games for the first time in almost three weeks. Facing the struggling Chicago Bulls could help them achieve that.The Hawks look for a fifth straight victory over the reeling Bulls on Wednesday night at Philips Arena.
After allowing an average of 114.5 points while splitting its previous two games against Toronto and New York, Atlanta (14-6) delivered its best defensive effort of the season in an 80-75 road win over Dallas on Saturday.
The Hawks held the Mavericks to 37.3 percent shooting from the floor, including 19 percent in the fourth quarter.
"I thought we showed a lot of guts coming off a tough back-to-back to come in and win," said Joe Johnson, who scored 31 points after a 29-point effort in a 114-107 home loss to the Knicks a night earlier.
Atlanta is 3-4 since its season-high seven-game winning streak from Nov. 7-20 - the last time the club won back-to-back games.
Though the Hawks overcame a 36.0-percent shooting night against Dallas, facing Chicago (7-12) could help them bounce back on the offensive end.
Atlanta is shooting 47.6 percent while averaging 113.3 points during its four-game winning streak against Chicago. The Hawks have won three in a row at home against the Bulls, who are 2-9 on the road and have lost six straight away from the United Center.
Johnson, averaging 21.5 points this season, had 41 on 16-of-31 shooting in the Hawks' 129-117 win over the Bulls in the teams' last meeting in Atlanta on Dec. 27.
He could be in for another big night against Chicago, which has lost three in a row and eight of nine. Its last two defeats couldn't have been more damaging.
After an embarrassing 110-78 home loss to Toronto on Saturday, the Bulls had a chance to bounce back against hapless New Jersey on Tuesday. Instead, they were outplayed again at home while losing 103-101 for the Nets' first road victory of the season and second in 21 games overall.
"It never feels good to lose to the team with the worst record in the NBA," forward Joakim Noah said. "It hurts."
While the Bulls are among the lowest-scoring teams in the league averaging 91.0 points per contest, they're giving up 104.7 during their three-game skid.
"We've got to guard, it's how we're going to win," coach Vinny Del Negro told the Bulls' official Web site. "We haven't been doing that as well lately. We need to pick our energy up on the defensive end; that's going to get us going offensively.
"If we can be more efficient offensively, it always helps your defense, especially your transition defense."
Derrick Rose scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter and Luol Deng also had 27 on Tuesday for the Bulls, who reached 100 for the first time in nine games.
Deng, averaging a team-high 17.7 points, bounced back after being held to 34 total points in his previous three games. He's averaging 17.3 in 15 games against the Hawks.
Rose averaged 22.0 points on 55.1 percent shooting in the three games against Atlanta last season en route to rookie of the year honors.
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