ATLANTA (AP) – Derrick Rose had 30 points and 10 assists, helping the Chicago Bulls move back in the Eastern Conference lead with a runaway 114-81 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
Chicago’s starters sat out the final period after the Bulls set season highs with 41 points in the second period and 72 points in the first half. Luol Deng finished with 27 points.
The Hawks, who have lost seven of 10, were denied an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and absorbed their first home loss to Chicago in four years.
The Bulls, who have won 10 of 11 since losing in Atlanta on March 2, began the night tied with idle Boston for the best record in the East.
Jeff Teague scored 17 of his 20 points in the fourth for Atlanta, which trailed 98-60 after three and also decided to rest its starters in the final period. Josh Smith and Al Horford had 14 points apiece, but Horford departed in the third with a strained hamstring.
The Bulls and Hawks played for the third time in three weeks.
Chicago led by 19 points in the second quarter of their 83-80 loss in Atlanta on March 2. Since then, the Bulls have won 10 of 11, including two lopsided wins over Atlanta.
The Hawks, who lost 100-59 to New Orleans at home on Jan. 21, came close to a second 40-point home loss. Chicago’s big lead was 47 points.
The Bulls were almost perfect in pulling away from the Hawks in the first half.
With 4:50 remaining in the second quarter, Hawks coach Larry Drew called a timeout after Kyle Korver’s 3-pointer gave the Bulls a 57-35 lead. Atlanta had made 52 percent of its shots from the field and still trailed by 22 because the Bulls were shooting at a season-best pace.
Chicago’s best shooting game of the season came on Dec. 21, when they shot 64.5 percent from the field in a home win over Philadelphia. Against the Hawks, the Bulls were even better – for a half.
Rose closed the first half with three 3-pointers, including one just before the half ended. The Bulls led 72-43 at the break after outscoring the Hawks 41-22 in the second period. Chicago made 31 of 42 shots (73.8 percent) in the half and finished at 54.4 percent.
Fans chanted “MVP! MVP!” during Rose’s spree of 3-pointers. He made 6 of 8 3s for the game.
The Bulls continued to stretch the lead in the second half. Rose had 10 points in the third quarter while earning the early exit.
NOTES: Chicago ended a six-game losing streak in Atlanta, winning at Philips Arena for first time since April 1, 2007. … The Bulls made 17 of 21 shots while scoring a season-high 41 points in the second – the most Hawks have allowed in any period this season. The Bulls’ 72 first-half points also are the most Atlanta has allowed in a half this season. … Chicago outscored Atlanta 48-18 in the paint.
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