Quantcast 2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs: Semifinals - Chicago vs Atlanta

 

NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals - Game 4 Recap

Eastern Conference Semifinal Game 5 - Chicago 95, Atlanta 83 - Bulls lead series, 3-2

 

It still wasn’t easy. It still wasn’t convincing. It still wasn’t going to quiet the critics or doubters who think that the Miami Heat will win the Eastern Conference championship.

However, it was enough for one night… and it sure beats the alternative.

Thrust into a dogfight with the Atlanta Hawks for three quarters, the boys from the Windy City answered the call down the stretch and made sure that their plane flight to Georgia was accompanied by a series lead, not a series deficit.

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With the fate of his top-seeded Chicago Bulls squarely on the line, league MVP Derrick Rose took over. Trailing 70-69 just 42 seconds into the fourth quarter, the Bulls – staring at a possible ouster later this week – needed to find a spark if they wanted to put the Hawks on the elimination hot seat when the series returned to the South. Rose was the man who turned aspiration into reality for the club that won 62 regular-season games in 2010 and 2011. The dynamic point guard either scored or assisted on seven of his team’s first nine successful possessions, giving Chicago the upper hand and forcing the underdogs from Atlanta to play uphill for most of the evening at the United Center. By the time Rose and company were done, the Bulls had secured a Game 5 victory and a chance to punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals when they face the Hawks in Game 6 on Thursday in Atlanta.

Chicago came out with zeal in the first quarter, taking a 32-21 lead after one quarter of play. However, behind the repeatedly superlative play of “where-did-he-come-from” point guard Jeff Teague, the Hawks owned the next two quarters, giving the underdogs a chance to steal the contest in the final frame. Teague, playing in his first-ever playoff series after being buried on coach Larry Drew’s bench in the regular season and the first round of the postseason against the Orlando Magic, finished with 21 points and consistently put pressure on the Chicago defense. Teague’s emergence has the Hawks thinking about how special they can be in 2012.

 

 

For now, though, Atlanta is still not giving the appearance of a team that’s ready to reach the next level and stay there. During the fourth quarter, the Bulls turned up the defensive pressure and took control of the game. Taj Gibson filled in for teammate Carlos Boozer and destroyed Atlanta within five feet of the basket throughout much of the second half. The Bulls need grunt guys to do the dirty work near the tin, and Gibson impressively answered the bell for coach Tom Thibodeau.

Rose scored 33 points and dished out nine assists. Luol Deng had 23 points. Five Bulls scored in double figures. Atlanta was just 1-of-12 beyond the arc and missed a very attainable opportunity to steal its second road win of the series.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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