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Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012
Bulls ground Hawks on Deng's late layup
CHICAGO — With Derrick Rose having a big fourth quarter for the Chicago Bulls, everyone expected the reigning NBA MVP to take the final shot with the score tied. Instead, it was Luol Deng who got the game-winner in the closing seconds.
Deng's layup with 3.7 seconds left lifted the Bulls to a 76-74 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
Rose scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to rally the Bulls from a 19-point deficit. Coming out of a timeout, Deng cut along the baseline and took a feed from Joakim Noah to put Chicago ahead.
"At the end of practice, we always run (the play)," Deng said. "(Joakim) made a great pass. We had a feeling both of (the defenders) would go with Derrick."
Turns out the play was designed for Rose after all.
"Obviously, we're trying to get it to Derrick," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They did a good job taking the first and second option away. Derrick set a great screen, (Noah) made a great pass and Luol made a great cut."
The play caught the Hawks off guard as they were anticipating Rose to get the last shot.
"We all assumed that the ball was coming back to Rose," Atlanta's Al Horford said. "We were going to come and trap. That was a great play by their coach designed to take the pressure from Rose and hit Deng on the back. We didn't expect that at all."
Joe Johnson shot an airball at the buzzer, giving the Bulls the win.
Deng finished with 21 points for the Bulls and scored eight over the last four minutes after Atlanta re-established a lead.
"You can't say enough about Luol," Thibodeau said. "He does everything."
Rose missed a runner with 21 seconds left, but Atlanta's Jeff Teague missed two free throws. Rose then drove past Teague and scored over the Hawks' Josh Smith with 9.9 seconds left to put the Bulls up 74-73.
Horford, who led the Hawks with 16 points, was fouled when Deng ran into him near the top of the key. Horford split two free throws with 7.7 seconds remaining, tying the score and setting up Deng's heroics.
"We stopped defending with the intensity that we did in the first three quarters," Hawks coach Larry Drew said. "We didn't make our free throws going down the stretch. If you don't make your free throws on the road you can't expect to win."
Marvin Williams added 14 points and Josh Smith had 13 for Atlanta, which shot just 35 percent from the floor but held Chicago to 34 percent.
The Bulls have won four straight and their 5-1 start is their best since opening 12-0 in 1996-97.
Jazz 85, Bucks 73
In Salt Lake City, Al Jefferson scored a season-high 26 points to lead Utah past short-handed Milwaukee.
Trail Blazers 103, Thunder 93
In Oklahoma City, LaMarcus Aldridge had 30 points and eight rebounds to help Portland beat the Thunder.
Grizzlies 113, Kings 96
In Memphis, Rudy Gay scored 23 points, Sam Young added 20 and the Grizzlies beat Sacramento.
Cavaliers 115, Bobcats 101
In Cleveland, Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and fellow rookie Tristan Thompson added 16, leading the Cavaliers past Charlotte.
Lakers 108, Rockets 99
In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 37 points and Andrew Bynum had 21 points and 22 rebounds in the first 20-20 game of his young career.