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ATLANTA (AP) – Luol Deng scored 22 points and led a flurry of 3-pointers as the NBA-leading Chicago Bulls won another game on the road, blowing out the Atlanta Hawks 98-77 on Wednesday night.
Deng was 5 of 8 from beyond the arc and the Bulls finished 9 of 16 overall to improve their NBA-best record away from home to 21-6 and their overall mark to 41-11, even while missing star Derrick Rose for the eighth straight game with a shoulder injury. The Bulls haven’t missed a beat, winning six times without their MVP.
Chicago built an 18-point lead in the second quarter. The Hawks scored the final six points of the half, then started the third quarter on a 10-2 run to get to 56-52.
It was all Bulls from there. They ripped off 20 of the next 26 points and a hefty contingent of Chicago fans turned Atlanta’s arena into the United Center South, breaking out the “Let’s Go Bulls!” chant.
Atlanta’s frustration boiled over midway through the fourth quarter. The Bulls took off on another fast break, leaving Joe Johnson as the only man back against three Chicago players. Carlos Boozer flipped a behind-the-back pass to Taj Gibson, who was tackled – football style – by Johnson, both players going down in the middle of the lane.
Amazingly, Johnson wasn’t even called for an flagrant foul, but the Bulls were hardly flustered. The final minutes were nothing more than a highlight show by the road team, plus a chance for Chicago’s fans to chant for little-used Brian Scalabrine to get in the game.
He checked in with a little over a minute remaining.
Deng had plenty of help. Boozer scored 20 points, Gibson added 19, while Joakim Noah and John Lucas chipped in with 10 apiece. Josh Smith led Atlanta with 19 points, but he had only six in the second half.
The Hawks raced to a 13-5 lead, forcing Chicago to call an early timeout. But Deng and the Bulls turned the tide with their deadly accuracy from beyond the arc.
Deng made three straight from long range. Lucas swished a pair. Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson also connected. Chicago outscored the Hawks 33-13 over the first 9 1/2 minutes of the second quarter, storming ahead 54-36.
The Bulls finally missed from beyond the stripe when Lucas’ attempt bounced off the rim just before the buzzer, but the visiting team still went off with a 54-42 lead. Chicago made 12 of 18 shots in the second period and did its usual stifling job at the defensive end, holding the Hawks to 8-of-21 shooting.
Atlanta finished 32 of 80 (40 percent) from the field.
Notes: Chicago also was without Richard Hamilton (shoulder), who missed 12th straight game but is close to returning. … Korver went off with a bloody forehead in the second quarter after getting whacked inadvertently by Hawks C Zaza Pachulia going for a rebound. Korver was patched up enough to get through the game and was expected to get stitches afterward. … The previous night, Pachulia caught teammate Johnson, forcing him to take stitches in his lip. … Rapper Lil Wayne watched the game from a courtside seat. … Chicago won the season series with the Hawks 3-1.
(© 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.)