ATLANTA (AP) In a back and forth battle for most of the night, the Atlanta Hawks pulled away towards the end and went on to beat the Chicago Bulls.
Josh Smith had 23 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists, and Jeff Teague came up with another big game to lead the Atlanta Hawks past the Chicago Bulls 100-88 Sunday night, evening the Eastern Conference semifinals at two games apiece.
The Hawks snapped a nine-game home losing streak in the second round of the playoffs, their misery dating to a May 13, 1996, win against Orlando.
Smith, frequently criticized by Atlanta fans for his inconsistent play, stayed away from the outside jumpers, dominated on the inside and found the open man with crisp passes. Teague has been an even bigger surprise filling in for injured Kirk Hinrich, scoring 12 points and dishing out four assists.
Teague has been an even bigger surprise filling in for injured Kirk Hinrich, playing with the poise of a veteran instead of someone who played infrequently during the regular season and first round of the playoffs. He scored 12 points and doled out four assists, putting the capper on a late 10-0 run that broke open a game that had been tight and intense all the way.
Driving toward the hoop with Kyle Korver draped all over him, Teague flipped up a shot as he was falling down. It banked in, giving the Hawks a safe lead, 94-84, with 1:26 remaining. The second-year player bounced off the court with a big smile, bumping his teammates on the way to the bench.
Someone held up a sign, “M-V-Teague.”
The actual MVP scored 34 points. But Rose needed 32 shots to do it, and he wasn’t nearly as effective as he was in scoring a career-best 44 points in Game 3, leading the Bulls to a 99-82 rout that restored Chicago’s home-court advantage. The top-seeded Bulls can still close out the series simply by winning at home, but the Hawks know they’ll get at least one more home game.
“Game 6 tickets are on sale now,” the Hawks public-address announcer said.
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