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Bulls

Bulls Blow Out Hawks In 1st, End Up Losing

Atlanta Hawks center Josh Powell, bottom, and Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, top, chase for a rebound in the second quarter  of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Hawks center Josh Powell, bottom, and Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, top, chase for a rebound in the second quarter of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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ATLANTA (AP) – Al Horford matched his career high with 31 points, including a jam with 29 seconds remaining to give Atlanta its first lead, and the Hawks beat the Chicago Bulls 83-80 on Wednesday night.

The Bulls scored the first 14 points of the game, took a 19-point lead in the second quarter and kept the lead until the final minute.

Horford had 16 rebounds and two steals, including one after his go-ahead basket that set up a jam by Joe Johnson for the final margin.

Luol Deng had 15 points, Joakim Noah had 13 points and 12 rebounds and Derrick Rose had 12 points and 12 assists for Chicago.

The Hawks, who were without injured forward Josh Smith, have six straight home wins in the series with the Bulls.

The Hawks cut Chicago’s lead to one point at 79-78 on a 3-pointer by Marvin Williams with 1:18 remaining.

Atlanta finally pulled even at 79-all when Horford made one of two free throws with 56 seconds remaining. Noah pushed Chicago’s lead back to one point by making one of two free throws with 37 seconds remaining.

Following a timeout, Jamal Crawford drove toward the basket and passed to Horford, whose jam gave Atlanta its first lead at 81-80.

Chicago’s Kyle Korver missed a 3-pointer at the final buzzer.

Horford had 13 points in the third quarter as the Hawks cut into Chicago’s lead. Johnson, who struggled most of the game, hit a jumper from the corner with 6:22 remaining to trim the lead to 70-69.

Korver answered Johnson’s shot with a 3-pointer.

The Bulls established a physical and dominant pace when Noah beat Horford, his former University of Florida teammate, for the opening tipoff.

Rose penetrated and passed to Carlos Boozer, who jammed for the game’s first basket. Noah blocked a shot by Horford on the other end, and the Bulls were on their way to the 14-0 run.

Johnson, guarded by Deng much of the game, missed seven of eight shots in the first half. He finished with 12 points on 5-for-20 shooting.

Chicago starters outscored Atlanta’s first five 42-16 in the half for a 50-33 lead.

Smith had an MRI on his right knee during the game. Smith hurt his knee in Monday night’s loss at Denver and the team said he suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament.

Kirk Hinrich had three points while making his first start in his third game with the Hawks. He was acquired in a five-player trade with Washington last week.

Tensions flared late in the first half when Horford was fouled hard by Boozer, who wrapped his arm under the All-Star center’s chin. With Horford on his back under the basket, Hawks center Zaza Pachulia pushed Chicago players away. Horford remained in the game to make one of two free throws.

Hawks coach Larry Drew lobbied unsuccessfully for a flagrant foul.

Horford, clapping his hands, tried to encourage his teammates at the end of the first half. Horford continued to push the Hawks by scoring 11 points in a 17-6 run to open the second half.

Notes: Chicago’s previous win in Atlanta came on April 1, 2007. … The Hawks recalled G-F Pape Sy from Utah of the Development League. … Jason Collins started for Smith. … The Hawks went 8:48 without a field goal in the second quarter. … Horford hit his first 3-pointer of the season and second of his career in the third quarter. His double-double was his 30th of the season.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.