Bulls rally to down Hawks


01:36 PM January 4th, 2012

January 4th, 2012 01:36 PM

CHICAGO—NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose led a furious fourth-quarter rally, but it was Luol Deng who delivered the game-winner for Chicago Tuesday in a 76-74 victory over Atlanta.

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng (9) drives to the basket Memphis Grizzlies forward Quincy Pondexter (20) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago on Sunday. AP

With the Hawks focused on Rose on Chicago’s inbounds play, Deng cut inside and collected a pass from Joakim Noah for a layup with 3.7 seconds remaining.

The Hawks, who led by as many as 19 in the third quarter, could not respond, with Joe Johnson’s jump shot at the buzzer failing to reach the rim.

The Hawks, who handed mighty Miami their first defeat of the lockout-delayed season on Monday, had appeared on their way to another victory over a lackluster Bulls team that shot just 27.3 percent from the floor through three quarters.

Rose scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter as Chicago rallied, hitting three three-pointers in a 20-3 run that knotted the score in the final period.

Noah sat out much of the fourth quarter because of foul trouble, but played a crucial role when it mattered.

“The last play of the game coach called my name and we drew up a play,” Noah said. “I know Derrick really wanted the ball in that situation, but both defenders were focused on him. I threw the pass to Lu — Lu laid it up. It was a good play.”

Coach Tom Thibodeau said the inbounds play was designed to offer several options, if, as happened, the Hawks shut down Rose.

“Derrick set a great screen, Jo made a terrific pass, Luol made a great cut,” Thibodeau said.

Deng finished with 21 points for the Bulls, whose late surge seemed unlikely as they lumbered through a first half that included 14 straight missed shots.

Despite their difficulties, Deng said the Bulls never gave up.

“We always play hard,” he said.

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